Le fate ignoranti | The Ignorant Fairies
DIRECTOR: Ferzan Özpetek | WRITERS: Gianni Romoli, Ferzan Özpetek | CAST: Stefano Accorsi, Margherita Buy, Serra Yilmaz | Italy
Le fate ignoranti may be a wonderful sounding title for a movie in Italian, but it’s impossible to take the title in English at all seriously: The Ignorant Fairies. (It’s the title of a hideous painting that plays a pivotal role in the plot.) This is especially the case given the film’s subject matter: a woman discovers after her husband’s accidental death that he had been carrying on an affair, a serious love affair, with another man for seven years. And not just a love affair, but he had an entire life-on-the-side that included his lover’s friends and flatmates. This premise is not exactly new, but a skilled screenwriter and director could have breathed some life into it. Unfortunately, Özpetek is merely competent and the film he directed is the same: just OK enough, cliché-ridden but not annoyingly so. If anything did annoy it’s the soundtrack (lots of too-strident wailing pop sopranos) and Özpetek’s favorite camera move, a dolly shot sweeping down a long table, focused either on the people seated at the table or on the food placed on it.
The saving graces of Le fate ignoranti are the two leads. Margherita Buy plays Antonia, a newly widowed doctor with an AIDS practice who discovers that her entire adult life has been based on a half truth, and she’s quite good if a bit one note. Her husband’s lover Michele, the owner of a wholesale fresh produce company, is played by Stefano Accorsi and he is simply wonderful: charming and warm and charismatic for the most part but prickly, occasionally vindictive and mean-spirited. But Özpetek’s take on the story is surprisingly conventional, and when he throws in something out of the ordinary it fails to convince. In what world does a 40-ish doctor with a thriving practice discover that she not only has been sharing a man for years with the 30-ish owner of a wholesale fresh produce company, but that the two of them share a favorite poet together? Oh, and not only that, but these two Romans’ favorite poet just happens to be the 20th century Turkish communist writer Nazem Hekmat. How likely is that? Oh, who cares? Stefano Accorsi is so good the film deserves an extra point.