A broad outline of this Italian film, directed by Ferzan Ozpetek, makes it sound like an old-school domestic melodrama. A young single mother, Annamaria (Jasmine Trinca), has a grave medical condition that she may not survive. As she’s being treated, the presence of her two children creates confusion and havoc in the home of the friends looking after the young ones.
But the details of this engaging and sometimes heart-tugging picture are entirely contemporary. The friends are a gay couple, Arturo (Stefano Accorsi) and Alessandro (Edoardo Leo), soon to be married. Annamaria is definitely closer with Alessandro than Arturo. When she climbs into their bed on the night she arrives at their place to drop off her children, he’s the one she spoons with. Her son, the younger of the two, is named Alessandro, after his “uncle”; the boy’s sister is sure that the older Alessandro is her brother’s father.
Annamaria checks into a hospital with persistent migraines, and after a while, it’s clear she needs an operation. The raucousness of the kids, the older Alessandro’s emotional disequilibrium and Arturo’s shifty flouting of the couple’s kinda-sorta open sexual relationship makes things increasingly intense and angry. Eventually an evil grandmother is thrown into the mix.
Shot in various sun-drenched Italian locations, including Rome and Palermo, the movie has a surface resemblance to almost any Luca Guadagnino picture. Ozpetek isn’t as formally ostentatious as the more famous director, but he has a sharp eye for revealing detail: Arturo and Alessandro look like a pretty cozy bourgeois couple, but when Arturo, who gave up his writing ambitions to make a life with Alessandro, wants to work on his own project, he has to do it in their eat-in kitchen.
The Goddess of Fortune
Not rated. In Italian, with subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 54 minutes. Watch through virtual cinemas.