What I’m watching: Intense gay Italian drama – Brokeback intense



Netflix has become a notable stable for LGBT-themed movies and TV series. Nuovo Olimpo is the latest, a one-off Italian feature centred on the aborted romance between Enea (Damiano Gavino), a young film director, and Pietro (Andrea Di Luigi) an ophthalmologist  new to the gay scene. They meet in the Nuovo Olimpo fleapit cinema in the 1970s, a notorious gay cruising ground that is Rome’s equivalent of London’s Biograph cinema (aka “the Bio-grope”). A passionate affair is cut short when the cinema is invaded during an anti-fascist demonstration and they lose contact.

Ten years later Enea has made a movie about their brief fling, and a re-encounter is narrowly missed. More years pass: Ennea has a doting husband and Pietro a wife who is sensitive to the gap in his life. An accident on a film set brings the two men together in the eye hospital and offers the opportunity to relight the flame between them. A “will they/won’t they” moment gives the movie a soap-opera climax.

The intensity of the early sex scenes is more than a little reminiscent of Brokeback Mountain (as in other Netflix productions full-frontal nudity takes the movie to the vertiginous edge of lite porn). The story also has faint echoes of Theorem, Pasolini’s pansexual odyssey which seemed extremely bold and weird in 1968 and might still seem pretty far out in 2023.

Nuovo Olimpo isn’t weird but it is a full-on exploration of gay and bisexual love, written and directed with a rare sensitivity by Ferzan Ozpetek and beautifully played by the two handsome leads. This is a must-see drama whose appeal, very much like Brokeback Mountain, extends far beyond the gay audience.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *