★★★★★ | Love It or Leave It. In 2009 I remembered being totally enamored with an irrepressible young Italian gay couple that documented the struggle of acceptance of gay rights in their country and being totally horrified about the vitriol and power of the far right political parties that seem to make the American Evangelistic Conservatives seem like real sweethearts by comparison.
One of the most impressive things about their award-winning movie ‘Suddenly Last Winter’ was Luca and Gustav’s unceasing optimism and their determination to succeed.
Now they are back with another extremely watchable movie as they question whether they want to remain living in Italy today, or follow the exodus of many of their creative and talented friends who have moved to Berlin, London, Barcelona as they believe it’s only way to have the future they want. Their concerns are not just about the high cost of living and the lack of job security, and the sheer indifference to human rights, but also of a reactionary political system that empowered the morally corrupt Berlusconi to remain in charge for so long.
The couple cannot agree what is best for them. Gustav believes the time has come for them to go abroad, whilst Luca is convinced that there are many good reasons to stay and that Italy is full of passionate and committed people who every day carry on a silent battle to change things for the better. They compromise by agreeing to take a road trip around the whole country for six months to see if they can fall in love with it all over again.
They set off on their journey in a tiny old Fiat 500 in search of stories and people to try and rediscover what heart the country still has. They find it much divided and full of contradictions and the struggle they uncover as people simple try to survive from day to day is widely different from the elegant glamorous trouble free country that we foreigners perceive it to be.
It’s shocking to discover that there are still areas in contemporary Italy where if any honest elected politician dares to instigate any change they will have their car/house torched by the Mafioso and have to contend with constant threats to their lives. It’s not totally all gloom and doom that they uncover and there are glimmer of hopes like in Bari where the new Governor is not just a communist and Catholic but is also openly gay and is actually getting things done.
After hearing peoples stories, seeing the mountains of abandoned toxic waste, the unfinished unwanted monstrous structures which were started with European grants that suddenly disappeared, and whole swathes of coastline littered with illegal buildings, the couple appreciate that have a great deal to consider before they can decide what to do when their journey is finished. Gustavo is a northerner and is very pragmatic and has a very strong political sensibility, whist Luca being Roman is sarcastic and fatalistic. They do make a great pair.
Do they choose Berlin or Rome to live in next? They try and keep us guessing.
Great wee film that is so worth seeing, and it may make you even appreciate the country that you call home too.