Compared to the likes of Another Gay Sequel: Gays Gone Wild, the willfully contrarian Ciao is practically Syndromes and a Century. There are no shots of dick or ass-crack, no special appearances by Sally Kirkland or Lady Bunny, no references to Mommie Dearest, and the lead character goes to the doctor not to discover he's HIV-positive but merely that he has a skin tag under one of his pitsa benign one at that. Which is one way to diagnose this drama about a handsome Italian who travels to Dallasnot West Hollywoodto visit the best friend of a man he was wooing online but who recently died in a car accident. Jeff (Adam Neal Smith) and Andrea (Alessandro Calza) get to know each other across the span of a single weekend, bonding over their wants and misgivings and memories of the deceased Mark. The cross-cultural jibber-jabber that often frames their chats will strike a nerve of recognition for queers who prefer dinner parties to tweaking, but like the symmetrical shot of the alleyway outside Jeff's home, or the bowl of fruit that appears in the background of one of Jeff and Mark's heart-to-hearts, the film's calculatingly minimalist style is in many ways as affected as all the gay Amerindie films at which writer-director Yen Tan snottily thumbs his nose.
Dec. 12-18, 2008