a film by Yen Tan
2008 | 87 mins | US
›› Ciao
a soulful meditation on love, loss and the grieving process.
Ciao by Yen Tan Like the film A Single Man, this emotional work examines the grieving process, even if on this occasion writer / director Yen Tan, alongside co-writer and star Alessandro Calza take the poignancy of the subject to a somewhat bittersweet degree.

For here we find thirty-something Jeff (Adam Neal Smith) mourning the passing of Texas cowboy Mark (Charles W Blaum); a car accident having brought to a sudden end their close friendship, one in which Jeff would have been more than willing to have taken to the next stage. Only he wasn’t Mark’s type. Unlike handsome Italian Andrea (Alessandro Calza) who was planning to fly to Dallas to finally meet up with the man himself, being an acquaintance of Marks’ that Jeff had no idea of, until a series of emails revealed all. Such words however were but the prologue to a meeting of minds, as Andrea and Jeff come to share their remembrances of the man they knew. Or rather, the man they thought they knew.

Ciao by Yen Tan Achingly slow at times, yet so too can be the emotions that go hand-in-hand with the pain of grief, a subject that this soulful meditation on love, loss and the grieving process is testament to. Only this is a film in which the narrative takes to the spotlight, a quiet observational piece that showcases a script laden with a series of telling signs, be it Jeff ringing Mark’s answer machine just to hear his voice again, to his insomnia at not being able to accept his death, namely a denial that sees both parties speak mainly of Mark in the present tense. All of which makes the film akin to eavesdropping on a private conversation, as two complete strangers get to know each other, by getting to know more about the man they both loved.

Not to everyone’s cinematic palette admittedly, given this is a work that in essence deals with and to quote Tan direct: "the birth of a relationship upon the death of another." And yet the way in which Tan all too realistically depicts the human desire of wanting to hold onto the memory of a loved one, be it by way of their smell, their voice or their belongings, has to be admired. For the more you look at this piece, the more you see, actions that will undoubtedly resonate with those who have experienced first hand, such profound feelings of loss. The result is one of the most contemplative depictions of bereavement to date, even if the relevance of the opening scene only comes into play as the film progresses. Yet for all of the positives / negatives of this feature, including a surprise country and western performance from the dead man himself and the fact that it was based on a series of platonic emails between the director and its overseas star, what is not in doubt is that this ode to love and loss contains one of the longest man-on-man lip-services seen in a gay film for quite a while. Destined to end up being more than just friends? I’ll say no more, other than Calza thankfully does not play Andrea as your stereotypical Italian.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - strictly from the waist up. 
Overall - file under ... 4 stars. 
available on DVD as part of the E1 Entertainment catalogue
starring: Adam Neal Smith, Alessandro Calza, Charles W Blaum, Ethel Lung,
John S Boles, Margaret Lake, Tiffany Vollmer.
official website: www.ciaomovie.com
Copyright 2010 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com.
archive reference #295
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