As my first movie for 2022’s Tribeca Film Festival, I could not have started with a stranger (or more fascinating) title. Previously known as La Santa Piccola, then The Miracle Child, and now Blessed Boys, this queer drama captures a slice-of-life vibe through a racy, sexually-charged friendship between two besties. Filmed in Naples, Italy, this Italian-language feature from writer/director Silvia Brunelli and co-writer Francesca Scanu captures a specificity not frequently seen from these types of movies. Curiously, it blends together two disparate storylines (one brimming with magical realism, the other possibly depicting young love) in a satisfying way.
Mario (Vincenzo Antonucci) and Lino (Francesco Pellegrino) are two inseparable best friends longing to escape the imposing nature of their hometown. Lino has a very close bond with his young sister, Annaluce (Sofia Guastaferro), but struggles with his mother’s aimlessness and inability to provide the siblings with even a base-level of necessities. Lino promises Annaluce that he will find a way to make enough money for the family to secure a new home outside the neighborhood. Mario meanwhile is going through a crisis of his own, spending his alone time blasting sad music through his headphones in his bedroom. He is beginning to question his own sexual identity in an unspoken way, seemingly drawn to Lino.
The conflict of the movie (and the original title) directly deals with Annaluce’s saint-like abilities. As the film begins, a dove careens into a marching group of churchgoers and dies, but Annaluce revives it and sets it free. Everyone is town begins to operate under the assumption that Annaluce is a heavenly gift from God, and will grant them blessings along with creating miracles. This creates a sort of mania that exists off to the side; as Mario and Lino grow closer, Annaluce turns colder and closed-off, immersed in this idea of “the miracle child.” Mario jokingly suggests they even use Lino’s sister to get them the lottery numbers.
Weirdly enough, Blessed Boys is my second queer Italian film in a row (I previously watched Mascarpone only days prior), and again collects two very attractive Italian men at its center. As far as sexual content is concerned, Blessed Boys has plenty of it, though maybe not entirely in the way one would assume. Building tension culminates in both a racy blowjob-fueled nightclub sequence and one wild night with a “MILF” that forces both men to confront their feelings head-on. There is a constant will-they-or-won’t-they permeating the whole affair that frequently feels dated in its depictions of young gay love.
The one and only thing that rubbed me the wrong way was the ending, which is a little too open-ended with what came before. It provides little in the way of answers for the movie’s multitude of questions, and romantically-speaking doesn’t exactly tie things up with a pretty bow. However, the positives far outweigh the negatives. Lino especially is a great character dripping with macho charisma, and as played by Francesco Pellegrino, is reason enough to watch. A script that is constantly weaving and toying with one’s expectations makes it bold and unpredictable. Blessed Boys is ultimately a heavenly queer drama that sizzles with the power of its sex scenes and lovable cast.
Blessed Boys screened at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival.