Rocco is 16-years-old and used to being bullied at school – even if the bullies don’t know he really is gay. Most of the time though, Rocco is more interested in hanging out with friends Maria and Mauri, and hoping that he will get laid. However, after an incident of bullying leads to a boy jumping out of a window, it leads Rocco to telling his parents the truth about his sexuality. Although the divorced Olga (Veronica Pivetti) and Manuele (Corrado Invernizzi) like to think of themselves as modern and cosmopolitan, the news they have a gay son sends them into a tailspin.
With Olga demanding her celebrity psychiatrist ex-husband get their son into therapy to get over this ‘phase’, and Manuele refusing to properly accept it, Rocco decides he needs to get out. His favourite singer has recently been outed, and announced that his latest set of tour dates will be his last. Rocco, Maria and Mauri decide to run off and see the singer in concert, escaping the problems at home. After they’ve set off across the country, Olga decides she has no choice but to follow, heading off after them with her own mother in tow – a woman who’s still upset the fascists aren’t running Italy anymore.
A Little Lust has a tendency to fluctuate between fairly serious teen drama and a pretty lightweight gay comedy. Although sometimes these two sides butt up against one another awkwardly, for the most part they aren’t too contradictory or problematic – although some will feel the movie delves a bit too deep into fantasy right at the end.
The movie is the directorial debut of acclaimed Italian actress Veronica Pivetti, who also plays Rocco’s mother. While she largely does a good job, there are moments when, while trying to keep an awful lot of balls in the air, the film does slightly slip away from her. Thankfully, as with the two sides of the movie, it’s never to the extent that it becomes a major problem. Indeed, for much of its running time it’s an entertaining, rather jovial film, interested in touching on some more serious topics.
It also does a good job with the coming out portions. Normally when a teen comes out to unsympathetic parents, it’s because the grown-ups are conservative, small-minded and normally very religious. A Little Lust however focusses on something slightly different, with parents who are seemingly open and modern – and who probably know gay people – but who freak out when it’s their own child who’s a homo. It’s actually fairly common – I know someone whose mother’s best friend was gay, but who had a real problem with her son’s sexuality – partly due to their own unacknowledged homophobia, and partly due to the fact it doesn’t fit with the narrative they’ve created for their child from the moment they were born.
The inclusion of the slightly dotty, fascist grandmother is a great addition too, adding a lot of humour to the piece, as well as managing to find a link to both the past and the future. That’s not to say it’s suggesting Italy should have a fascist future, just that there’s the possibility of a fusion of ideas – as in reality the grandma’s longing for the days of Mussolini are rather knowingly contrarian, and aware that reality, and family, is more complex than that.
It’s largely a fun little film, that really cares about its characters and the difficulties of growing up gay. One thing to note though is that while the title maybe ‘A Little Lust’, the movie isn’t exactly a sex-fest. The translation of the original name is ‘Neither Romeo, Nor Juliet’, which is closer to the actual tone of the movie, but I suppose lust is easier to sell. As long as you don’t go into this expecting a steamy sex romp from beginning to end, and just enjoy to romance and comedy of this teen drama, you’ll probably enjoy it.
Overall Verdict: Although the moments of very light comedy and the darker dramatic moments sometimes clash, A Little Lust is largely a fun look at teen love, coming out, parents coming to terms with having a gay son, and love for a pop star.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac