LGBTQ+ content continues to be churned out at a rapid pace, often to the point where quantity has not been matched with quality. Mascarpone posits all the delights of a coming-of-age dramedy, proving that even at age 30, it is still possible to find oneself. Filmed in just three weeks in Rome, this Italian production gets a hell of a lot right that few movies of this ilk are even willing to touch. With Giancarlo Commare at its center, following our lead as he figures out his own self-worth is utterly sublime. It is not a “happily ever after” type movie; rather, Mascarpone is instead more concerned with character depth and evolution.
Antonio (Commare) apparently lives in his own little world. He is operating under the assumption that his loveless marriage with Lorenzo (Carlo Calderone) is thriving more than it’s failing, but that simply isn’t the case. Romantically, the pair have been in trouble for quite some time; however, Lorenzo’s three-fold admission completely catches Antonio off guard. Firstly, Lorenzo wants a divorce because he is simply no longer in love. Secondly, he has been seeing another man named Enrico (Fabio Fappiano) for well over a year now. Finally, Lorenzo wants Antonio to move out of their beautiful home together so that Enrico can move in! In desperate need of a place to stay and a brand-new life direction, Antonio sets off on his own for the first time since high school without his former love.
Lorenzo knows full well that Antonio does not yet have a job. Lorenzo generously offers to pay Antonio’s way with whatever housing he is able to find for up to six months, but his generosity may come with a hefty price. Initially, Antonio is only looking for a place to stay for up to a month. He meets the eccentric and sexually-free Denis (Eduardo Valdarnini), who offers up a room in his apartment to rent. With a place set in stone, Antonio takes a leap of faith that will careen him into the next stage of his life. Denis introduces him to a hot young baker named Luca (Gianmarco Saurino), and Antonio begins working with him as an apprentice. Antonio also starts attending pastry school, finally able to channel his passion for cooking into a tangible reality.
Mascarpone is a charming and beautiful film, constantly following Antonio’s excitement and confusion over the modern dating scene. To say he is rusty would be an understatement, as he knows practically nothing about how dating apps work, or the proper etiquette for a one-night stand. He has only ever had one lifelong relationship. Having been with my current husband now for over a decade, I could fully relate to Antonio’s struggles to make sense of it all. As silly as it sounds, I have no clue how anyone in today’s world is able to meet organically without the cold distance of social media getting in the way. Denis and Luca are Antonio’s window into this world, constantly providing tips and pointers about how to manage it. Luca has a number of rules he tells Antonio (including never introducing one’s online dates to their real-life friends) while courting Antonio sexually in private.
Antonio’s personality coupled with Commare’s performance makes him an especially intriguing character to follow. Though being thrown to the side of the garbage heap is par for the course with his marriage, Antonio refuses to let this happen again. Through Denis, Antonio develops into a strong-minded person of his own as he enters his “slut phase” with two feet firmly on the ground. Directors Alessandro Guida and Matteo Pilati (who also co-wrote the script with Giuseppe Paternò Raddusa) inject Mascarpone with a zipping sexual energy and darkly comedic undertones. When tragedy strikes in the home stretch, I’m not entirely sure it feels earned or warranted enough to take that drastic of a left-hand turn. However, that aspect of the climax is maybe my only complaint. The fitting title of the film is host to a variety of interpretations, and comes into play in a major way. Mascarpone whips up a fresh and fragrant delight that is destined to become a queer date-night favorite.
Mascarpone concocts a delectable mix when it debuts in LA theaters Friday, May 6th, followed by a DVD and VOD release on May 10th.