(NO SPOILERS BELOW)One of the . . . er, hallmarks of this beyond ugly election year is the rampant, in-your-face homophobia of the right wing, with New York senatorial wannabe Carl Paladino currently in the van. Which in a way makes my accidental discovery of A Special Day, a semi-obscure 1977 Italian movie, all the more meaningful.
Paladino, for those of you having trouble keeping up with the nonstop natterings of his ilk, believes that gays are pedophiles by nature, "perverts who target our children and seek to destroy their lives," and in poking the ever-reliable family values banner in voters' faces assumes that gays and lesbians can never be family.
This calumny is ever present in A Special Day (Una giornata particolare in Italian), which tells the story of a housewife, Antoinetta (Sophia Loren) and her neighbor, Gabriele (Marcello Mastroianni) on May 8, 1938, the day that Adolph Hitler visits Benito Mussolini in Rome.
Loren's fascist-loving husband, Emanuele (John Vernon) and their six children, as well as practically all of Rome, are attending a rally at the Circus Maximus for the dictators. As Antoinetta settles into her daily grind of dish washing, bed making, cleaning and laundering, the family's macaw escapes his cage and flits across the apartment block to a ledge outside of Gabriele's window.
Antoinetta knocks on Gabriele's door in an effort to retrieve the bird and there ensues a sensitively drawn and exquisitely acted chamber drama in which the loneliness of each is revealed.
A Special Day is highly recommended, if not to be appreciated by the Paladinos that slither among us. (And no, it matters not that Paladino belatedly but only somewhat apologized for his remarks, claiming that he was handed a script and merely read it.)