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His Secret Life (Le Fate Ignoranti)

January 4, 2016


Le Fate Ignoranti portrays the gay community as just another group in our society, facing the same humane problems – that gay men are nothing but another human beings deserve the same humane treatment and respect.

AIDS doctor Antonia’s husband is killed by a car. She gets depressed until she learns he had been cheating on her with a man. Following her newly born curiosity for life, she goes to see her husband’s lover, Michele, and finds a huge apartment that he shares with gay and transgendered friends, including a Turkish immigrant and a prostitute. Antonia is reluctant to tell these people of her relationship to the dead man, but needs prompting to move on to a new phase of her life.

Although bitter at first, the woman tries to make friends with the lover. Her effort backfires as he brushes her away, resentful that he has had to live a secret life because of her. But gradually the two begin to make contact – half fascinated by the fact that the husband appeared to love them both, and half attracted to each other. There is a particularly good scene at a party where both are flirting with others but attract each other’s attention, as if drawn together by loss and the need for comfort.

Ozpetek attempts, with some success, to paint both the male and female participants in the triangle with even-handed sympathy. Neither is a paragon, and the class difference is as vital as any sexual preferences. She lives in a smart suburb, in some luxury; he is a stallholder in a local market and lives in a commune.

IF 2The director also avoids tacking on a tidy conclusion to the film, following the wife’s discovery that she is pregnant with her husband’s child. Hollywood would have matched up the two. Instead, Ozpetek ends his film with flashbacks to the 2000 Gay Pride celebrations in Rome, which both the Vatican and the Italian prime minister at the time tried first to ban and then to relocate. We do not know what will happen to these two people, but we guess that both have a better understanding of each other and of the man who divided himself between them for so long.

Title Card: [written on the back of the painting] To Massimo, for our seven years together, for that part of you that I miss and I will never have, for every time you said I can’t, but also for every time you said I’ll be back… Always waiting, can I call my patience love? Your ignorant fairy.

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From → Film, Sexuality

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