Looking at the list of Italian movies offered by Netflix I decided to watch one that I’d never seen from 2009 called Il Compleanno ( The English Title – David’s Birthday). Directed by Marco Filiberti, a director that is unknown to me ( and has only one other credit listed on imdb.com ) it always looked like one big Dolce&Gabbana ad, with overly handsome men running around in Speedos and with troubled looks on their faces.
After watching it I realize that it’s because “David’s Birthday” is kind of like a Dolce&Gabbana ad with an overly handsome men in Speedos and with troubled looks on their faces.
It’s also gay themed and pretty sexy, with the handsomest of the bathing suit guys (Brazilian Armani model Thyago Alves) as David, 18-year-old underwear model son of DIego ( Alessandro Gassman – Basilicata Coast to Coast ) and Shary, home for a summer holiday with the (dysfunctional) parents. They’re at a beach house with some friends, Matteo and Francesca, a (not immediately apparently dysfunctional but give it a few minutes) couple with a little girl. The couples are having a great, relaxing time together and then David arrives, taking the breath away from everyone in the vicinity. Nobody can take his eyes off David – the girls all want to date him, the boys all want to be his friend, and uncle Matteo – he wants to have sex with him.
I’m not giving anything away; this is obvious in the completely-void-of-sublty looks that Matteo gives David from the moment they meet. It’s too much. If my husband was constantly gawking like that, mouth hanging open and drooling at anyone, man or woman, I’d have smacked him in the head and told him to knock it off on day one. And yet no one in the group seems to notice the impure attention he gives to his best friends’ son.
Nobody, that is, except Leonard, Shary’s brother, who arrives later and sees it right away. Leonard watches Matteo rub suntan lotion on David’s back and it’s like he’s thinking, “C’mon dude – what the hell?”. He leaves the beach house and urges David to come with him. But it’s David’s birthday, there’s going to be a party, and he says he’ll join him later.
David’s Birthday was presented “controcampo” at the Venice FIlm Festival – controcampo meaning something like “against the grain”, and the Festival website describes Filiberti as a director who isn’t afraid of anything – I might agree. This is about five times more erotic than anything (another gay-themed director) Ferzan Ozpetek has given us.
David’s too pretty for me, and Matteo’s too obvious, but the movie is a tragedy, not a gay Beach Blanket Bingo. Here’s what the tagline for this movie should have been – Come for the handsome gay guy and the sex scenes bordering on gay porn – stay for the melodrama.