Film making is not about bringing together photography and theater, but painting and music. So said Robert Bresson, and Turkish director (but living and working in Italy) Ferzan Ozpetek shows how this is possible. Anna (a young and rich widow living a sheltered life, admirably played by Margherita Bui) discovers her deceased husband (with whom she was truly in love) had a gay lover. She traces this man, and discovers a whole world she had not dreamed of - just a few kilometers from home. She mourns her marriage for the second time, and is both repulsed and attracted by the former lover and his friends (living in a semi-incredible commune which FerzanOzpetek creates and describes in flourishing details). In the end she accepts this separate reality, discovering it inside herself as well as outside.
At the beginning I was fascinated by the technical talents of Ferzan Ozpetek, and how he interprets other directors without actually copying them: the general atmosphere of the gay commune reminds me of Pedro Almodovar (the costumes, for example, and the terrace in Rome like the one in Madrid in Women on the verge of nervous breakdown). The way of picturing the streets of this old, lower-class area of Rome reminded me of Mario Martone and his film L'amore Molesto. By the time I realized the biggest debt is to Julian Shnabel's Before Night Falls I was so much into the film that I did not care any more, and simply let myself being carried away by the magic of emotions. At the end I left the cinema totally dazzled. (There is a brief scene when Antonio is looking for condoms and unexpectedly finds a poetry book which for me is worth many a therapy sessions discussing sex and affection).
I cannot guarantee that this will happen to you as well, but you are certain to see a film full of art, by that rare director who established himself (Turkish Bath was his first film) not by marketing savvy but by word-of-mouth from casual viewers becoming enthusiastic supporters.
By the way: the connection with Before Night Falls is clear in two points. Both films surprise viewers with emotional documentary footage when the ending titles are showing. Here it is about the year 2000 Gay Pride march in Rome (a national confrontation after the Vatican and the left-wing prime minister tried to have it banned or moved somewhere else).
The second point is even more clear: in both films there is a scene (and a very moving one) where soft, melancholic music is used (apparently out of context) under footage of a loud and roaring party. In Le Fate Ignoranti the two main characters look at each other with romantic longing - while both are engaged (actively or passively) in overtly sexual courting with other partners. Loneliness hidden in apparent merriment is exactly what Shnabel wanted to show, as well.
Also Known As (AKA): Hada ignorante, El Argentina (festival title) / Spain, His Secret Life UK / USA (festival title), Tableau de famille Canada (French title) / France, Ahnungslosen, Die Germany, Cahil periler Turkey (Turkish title), Familiebilleder Denmark, Hada ignorante, secretos de pareja, El Colombia, The Ignorant Fairies International (English title), Um Amor Quase Perfeito Brazil.
Plot keywords for Le Fate Ignoranti: Homosexual, AIDS, Bisexual, Car Accident, Double Life, Infidelity, Prejudice, Subculture, Transsexual, Widow, Gay Interest, Loss Of Lover, Gay.