a film by Marco Filiberti
2009 | 106 mins | Italy
›› David's Birthday - Il compleanno
a homoerotic melodrama of operatic proportions.
David's Birthday by Marco Filiberti Into the idyllic setting of the Italian sun kissed shores, comes this homoerotic melodrama of operatic proportions.

Only don't go telling best friends Diego and Matteo and their respective wives Shary and Francesca that yet, as they enjoy the serenity of The Italian Riviera. Yet the tranquillity of their time spent together is set to come to an ill-fated end upon the arrival of the homoerotic like beauty of David; Diego and Shary's son and a boy, now turned young man whose defined good looks soon has more than just the local girls wanting to make his acquaintance. Not out to his wife, if indeed to himself, Matteo in a change of character, cannot help but become obsessed with David, an eye for the body of the son of his best friend that David's Uncle Leonard is increasingly all but aware of. Only as David's birthday rapidly approaches, can Matteo keep the calling of his heart under wraps?

David's Birthday by Marco Filiberti Taking you back to the classic films of yesteryear and in particular the Douglas Sirk era of lush melodramas, here we find co-writer and director Marco Filiberti playing with his audience, delivering a feature that blatantly teases you right up to the end as to whether Matteo's overpowering desire for David, is set to be a love forever unrequited? It is a work in which the foundation stones are the almost endless scenes of sensual tension between the two, sequences that in true seductive style are laced with sexual yearning, only to cut away before lips can do more than just talking.

That newcomer Thyago Alves as David makes for mouth-watering eye-candy, goes without saying. His physical presence giving way to homoeroticism in its pure sensuous state, as the camera purposely lingers on his muscular frame, water frequently shown glistening off his semi-naked body, soft porn fashion. Yet it is the work of the mamas and the papas of the piece that standout and whilst Alessandro Gassman, still fondly remembered by many for his work in Ferzan Ozpetek's outstanding feature Hamam: The Turkish Bath is always a delight to see, it is Massimo Poggio (young David in Ozpetek's Facing Window) who dominates the stage in the role of a man emotionally torn apart by the overwhelming nature of his love.

Only for all of its pros, of which there are many, it suffers from one too many superfluous subplots and side characters. Added to which, a number of narrative strains are left blowing in the wind, the psychiatrist sessions are overlong and frankly tedious and don't even mention Matteo's sexual epiphany, one that can only but leave you as confused as his wife (the multi-talented Maria de Medeiros of Pulp Fiction fame), as to how come this seemingly happily married heterosexual, turned gay overnight. That said, the relationship woes of the two couples are well-drawn, with the whole affair beautifully shot and scored, even if the ending, all too abrupt for my liking, should arrive as no surprise, given and like Wagner's famed Tristan and Isolde opera, it's all but obvious that tragedy lies just around the cinematic corner, as the film finally delivers the goods, in the form of its highly anticipated sexual climax. A classy production, nonetheless.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - the full monty. 
Overall - file under ... 3+ stars. 
available on DVD as part of the TLA Releasing UK catalogue 13.06.2011
starring: Alessandro Gassman / Diego, Maria de Medeiros / Francesca, Massimo Poggio / Matteo,
Michela Cescon / Shary, Christo Jivkov / Uncle Leonard and Thyago Alves as David.
›› many thanks to James for this reader review request; keep them coming ‹‹
Copyright 2011 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com.
archive reference #391
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