Sunnier in tone than Turkish-Italian helmer Ferzan Ozpetek’s “A Perfect Day” and “Saturn in Opposition,” ensembler “Loose Cannons” puts a comic spin on the director’s recurrent interest in families, and quasi-families, in crisis. Affable perfs and slick production values help Puglia-set tale of a son’s struggle to come out to his family slip down easily. Pic’s blend of gay and straight storylines should broaden its appeal in domestic market and secure pickups beyond specialized fests, although “Cannons” doesn’t quite have the fire power to go wider than niche distribution.
In the picturesque town of Lecce, the Cantone clan runs a successful pasta factory that’s been in the family for generations. Patriarch Vincenzo (Ennio Fantastichini) wants to step down and pass the biz on to his sons, elder Antonio (Alessandro Preziosi), who’s been learning the ropes for years, and younger brother Tommaso (Riccardo Scamarcio), who’s supposedly been at business school in Rome. None too keen to abandon his cozy life with his male lover Marco (Carmine Recano) in Rome, Tommaso plans to come out to his family at a formal dinner, knowing his father will freak out and give the business to Antonio.
An early twist ruins Tommaso’s plot, forcing him to stay in Lecce after his father has a minor heart attack. Bulk of pic’s midsection sifts through the family dynamics in the wake of the dinner party bombshell. Controlling mother Stefania (Lunetta Savino) goes into damage-limitation mode, Vincenzo becomes obsessed with whether the town knows their secret, and Tommaso’s sister Elena (Bianca Nappi) seizes the chance to step up to the plate. Over-idealized Grandmother (Ilaria Occhini) dispenses wise life lessons from the sidelines while she mulls over the decision years ago that shaped her destiny.
Meanwhile, Tommaso makes a half-hearted effort to get to grips with the pasta biz under the guidance of Alba (Nicole Grimaudo), the daughter of the Cantones’ co-investor. Although Alba knows he’s gay, the two find themselves attracted to one another, a nicely played muddling of gay-movie orthodoxies.
Not all the comic subplots pay off. A strand about Tommaso’s kooky Aunt Luciana (Elena Sofia Ricci) falls flat, although late-stretch arrival of a queenie quartet of Tommaso’s friends from Rome injects a jolly dose of camp as the men struggle to appear straight before Tommaso’s family.
Some stylistic tics are distracting, such as continual use of tracking shots that circle dining tables to show reactions. Pic could also have done with fewer pointless montages that seem inserted solely to let non-source tunes run their course. Perfs are solid, straightly acted (in every sense) when script could have provoked hammier turns.