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Monday, December 23, 2013

DVD Review: Tell No One

Tell No One is a wonderfully sweet and often quite funny film about a young man who is about to move from Rome to Madrid to be with his boyfriend, but hasn’t yet told his parents that he’s gay. His family is gathering for one big meal the night before he leaves, and his boyfriend surprises him by telling him he’s flying in for the meal.

The film opens with a black screen and the voice of Mattia (Josofat Vagni) telling his parents he’s homosexual. But then we see he’s trying it out in the mirror. “God, how awful, ‘homosexual.’ Sounds dreadful.” He tries several ways of saying it, then slaps himself in the face, testing a possible reaction of his parents. Oddly, this is a dream, and he wakes with his female friend, Stefania (Valeria Bilello), who is already well aware that he’s gay.

This night his family is throwing him a farewell dinner. Mattia gets online to chat with his boyfriend, Eduard, who surprises him by saying he’s flying into Rome in order to meet Mattia’s family for the dinner. Mattia had told Eduard that he had come out to his family, and that they were completely accepting of him. Interestingly, when we’re introduced to Mattia’s parents, we hear them arguing before seeing them, which adds to our understanding of perhaps why Mattia hasn’t yet come out to them. In fact, while we hear their argument, it is Mattia that we see on screen, entering the home, taking off his coat and so on.

Mattia turns to a gay friend, Giacomo, for help in keeping Eduard from showing up at the dinner. For some reason, Giacomo and Stefania don’t get along, but they have to work together in order to help their mutual friend. There’s a great moment when Stefania asks Mattia if it’s worth it. She says, “You might be letting the whole thing get out of perspective.” And it’s moments like that that keep the tone from getting too silly. It would have been very easy to let this film devolve into slapstick, with Mattia going to extreme efforts to keep Eduard from meeting his family. And a lesser film perhaps would have gone that route. But this movie has honest and true characters and relationships, and therein lies its charm.

A good deal of the story is told in flashbacks, where we see how Mattia and Giacomo met, and how he and Eduard met, and several times when he attempted to come out to his parents but failed. The scene where he and Eduard meet is delightful, especially because both Mattia and Stefania are instantly attracted to him, leading to a cute moment when Stefania realizes she wouldn’t be the right one for him.

Also in flashback, there is a funny moment when Mattia tries to come out to his sister, Sammy. He asks her, “Can I tell you something personal?” She responds, “No.” And then in voice over, Mattia says: “There. It’s not as if I’d never tried.”

The one element I could really do without is Mattia running into a guy that tormented him in school. That situation and that character just don’t feel important to this story. That feels like something extra tacked on, and actually takes away a bit from the charm of the main story. And the payoff of that storyline at the end doesn’t feel believable. But that complaint is minor, and the film is quite enjoyable.

Tell No One was directed by Ivan Silvestrini. It was released on DVD on December 10, 2013 through TLA Releasing. The DVD includes the film’s trailer.

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