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4.6 out of 5 stars
His Secret Life
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45 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 2003
This is an amazing film!! It is touching, and heart warming wihtout ever getting to be sacharine or melodramatic. The characters are strong and believable and the acting is superb! Foreign movies are great and Italian is a beautiful language to hear! If it helps in your decision the cast is very attractive, and there is one very hot make out scene between three guys. If you are looking for a lot of skin though this is not the movie for you, this is a movie of human relationships and dealing with loss; not to mention coming to terms with the people we love. The main character is a woman who's husband has just died. She discovers he has been having a relationship with another man for 7 years (seti ani). The two (the wife and the other man) become friends and discover things about the man they both loved that they never knew before. It is a complex and engrossing story that can be viewed more than once. So if you have not purchased this DVD yet get to it!! You will not be sorry.
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2004
His Secret Life touched me. I found myself thoroughly engrossed with the story and relating to both main characters, and the secondary ones. The kind of real emotion and character development is exactly what's missing in most Hollywood films, making me turn to the Foreign section most of the time. This is one of the best gay-themed films I have seen, one anyone can enjoy and relate to. It is a sweet film, heart-warming and touching without being overly sentimental. The chacters are thouroughly developed and experience real emotions as they deal with loss and heartbreak. Words cannot describe how this movie affected me and made me long for a better world where people can care about each other as much as this small group does. A wonderfully entertaining and emotional experience that is highly recommended.
P.S. Despite the preview, this is not sexually explicit and only features one scene of a gay threesome. The rest of the film is tame.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Released on DVD with the English title HIS SECRET LIFE, this beautifully involving film is another triumph from Director Ferzan Ozpetek in which he explores the sub rosa aspect of the lives of his characters. Antonia is happily married to a handsome Italian man (Massimo) who dies suddenly in an accident, leaving her bereft and lonely. Massimo's friends at work bring Antonia his belongings and in opening the office clutter she discovers a painting ("The Ignorant Fairy") which has an inscription on the back that it is from a lover of seven years. Antonia is convinced that her husband has had another woman and sets out to confront her, only to discover that the lover was a man (Michele) who lives in a wholly gay household with a devoted 'extended family'. At first taken aback, Antonia learns about her husband's bisexuality, becomes part of this extended family and indeed is a very important member as she is the one selected to administer the AIDS IVs to one of the family memebers. Gradually Antonia and Michele grow to understand each other as each related to the common love for Massimo. The ending is too beautiful to destroy by a review. See this film and grow.
All of the actors are richly gifed and the photography, settings, dialogue, and general message are so strong that this movie should be seen by a very wide audience, perhaps helping to relsove misunderstandings about many aspects of gender identities. A film of great sensitivity, comedy, and grace while it explores a tough subject, director Ozpetek establishes the promises of a wise and compassioante figure in cinema. Highly Recommended.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on October 13, 2002
"Le Fate Ignoranti" (The Ignorant Fairy) is a throwback to the 50 and 60's American melodramas like "Imitation of Life," "The Magnificent Obsession" or more to the point, "Back Street" except that the American versions, some of them directed by Douglas Sirk, were tempered with an overriding sense of irony and humor while "LFI" is, at times deadly serious to a fault.
"Le Fate Ignoranti" tells the story of Antonia (Marguerita Buy) and her discovery, after her husband Massimo's death, that he had been having an affair with Michele (Stefano Accorsi) for seven years. To put it mildly, this is a shock to Antonia who nonetheless finds herself welcomed into Michele's coterie of friends: some societal misfits, most not.
It is in this company that Antonia realizes that Massimo had much more than an affair; he had an entirely different life with a whole circle of other friends.
It is to the director, Ferzen Ozpetek's credit that this film becomes, not a film of revenge or hate but one of understanding and acceptance. Antonia, unlike the Vera Miles character in "Back Street" who does everything she can to make her husband's mistress Rae (Susan Hayward) miserable, learns to care for Michele and his friends. Antonia's mother, obviously a very wise woman and speaking for the writer I would think, says and I'm paraphrasing here: "It is always the mistress who suffers the most, she is the one who must spend holidays alone, she is the one who must wait for the phone to ring, she is the one who must accept her lover's limitations or live without him."
If Ozpetek makes any miss-steps here it is that some of the scenes are directed with a TV soap opera seriousness that smudges the earnest caring and thoughtfulness of his mise en scene.
Marguerita Buy does an outstanding job as Antonia: fearful, regretful, scared, repulsed, angered yet ultimately accepting and loving. Stefano Accorsi's Michele is a nice guy who finds himself in an untenable situation: he wants to strike out at Antonia (he does at times) but he also realizes her loss is greater then his and he respects this. Accorsi tempers Michele's pain with remorse and guilt and thereby creates a multi-layered, rather than one-dimensional character. Accorsi and Buy imbue their characters with a sort of damaged nobility that strikes a cord in our hearts and in our minds.
"Le Fate Ignoranti" is in many ways a "pot-boiler" harkening back to some of the films of the American 50's and 60's but it's head and heart is firmly rooted in the new millennium. It is a film that recognizes the differences in people and embraces and celebrates them wholeheartedly and without question.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2004
In a nutshell, a womans husband is killed crossing a busy road (possibly the worst effects I've seen on film in many years) and when packing away his things, comes across a painting with a message from his lover on the back. She tracks 'her' down, and discovers she is in fact a he.
Naturally she is upset and cant understand the life her husband has lead for the last seven years, but over time, she gets to know his lover and his friends, both learning things about their lover that they never knew.
I heartily recommend this film - not for those just looking for flesh though. So many gay films are below par, and either over play the sentiment or are just too trashy. This is not one of them. This really is a beautiful film; all the characters are played with sensitivity and the film is so well acted, especially by the lead actress.
(NB: This films original title is translated as 'Ignorant Fairies', which is the name of the painting in the movie - the title shouldnt have been dumbed down, and the cover art! so cheap looking. The international covers are much more appropriate.)
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 14, 2003
Wow--what a powerful story. I'm not normally one to pick up a foreign movie (I hate reading subtitles; that's what books are for!), but the story sounded very intriguing: a recent widow who was in a happy, loving marriage discovers that her husband was living a double-life...with another man for seven years. Both of his relationships were loving...and he obviously couldn't bring himself to pick between the two because he loved both of them. In a sense, he was monogamous...with two people.
The movie was even better than I had expected. There was so much emotion between the main characters -- the two "widows." I loved that there was tension at the beginning between the two and, from the love of the same man, they eventually grew a friendship...and grew to love each other as well. It was a very moving story, and I highly recommend it.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2004
I've seen several mediocre gay-themed movies lately, and I was expecting more of the same here. I couldn't have been farther from the mark.

This wonderfully crafted film is exquisite in every way. It's beautifully and creatively directed and filmed, it's very well written, and the performances of the two lead actors, in particular, take your breath away.

Since the movie is Italian, there is an allowance for ambiguity and lack of definition to emotions that is indeed "foreign" to American films. The characters and situations are not black and white -- which, as we all know, is much closer to the way life truly is.

This is a movie to own and treasure, not just to rent. Anyone who collects foreign films should have this. It's that good.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2004
I bought this DVD some months ago and watched it in portions. For some reason I just wasn't able to focus enough to watch it in its entirety.

I recently decided to travel to Italy and getting into the spirit of things, remembered this movie. Once I turned the movie on - it turned ME on! The story and characters were wonderful and very real. There is a sadness that turns to gratifying and empowering self-discovery. Antonia, the main character, has just lost her husband Massimo in a car accident. In viewing his personal belongings, she discovers that Massimo was having an affair for the past 7 years. Little does Antonia realize that the affair was with a man (Michele).

Antonia develops a sometimes tense friendship with Michele and his group of friends. Over time, the friendship with this group becomes a part of Antonia's family.

The movie is complete with the token transexual, AIDS victim, as well as a fag-hag from Turkey. Each of them are a delight and add a real richness to the storyline.

Filmed in Rome, the movie takes us to understand that no matter where you live or what language you speak, that family is the most important thing there is. It doesn't matter if your family members are blood-related or not. Family is what you make of it.

The only minor fault that I found was the portrayal of the stereotypical bitter queens who are so dishonest and unfaithful to themselves - and each other. Lines like "If you tell the truth, they will stop loving you" made me cringe a bit. The character of Antonia found this upsetting as well.

The music score was very good and I especially liked the music played during the closing credits (Tiromancino's "Due Destini") It is a superb song!

Overall, I give this FIVE stars as the movie was in itself a great portrayal of turning obstacles into opportunities and finding the value in family relationships.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2004
This is a great date movie. The only drawback is the centeral charater is killed off within the first few minutes of the minutes. The remander of teh movie you are left to live the moments of joy between the gay lovers as a memory.
WILL SOMEONE MAKE A MOVE WHICH SHOWS GAY LOVE AS AN ACTIVE HAPPY EVENT. CAN SOMEONE MAKE A MOVE THAT DOES NOT KILL OFF THE GAY LAVOER TO AIDS, ACCIDENTS OR HATE CRIMES.
CAN SOMEONE MAKE A MOVIE WHERE 2 GUYS CAN MEET AND FALL IN LOVE AND ENJOY EACH OTHER.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2004
I just loved this movie! The story is intriguing, clever and real, however to really grasp the meaning of it, you must be hypocrisy-free!

As an heterosexual wife and mother of 2 young adult heterosexual boys, I was very pleased of seeing a movie which portrait gays under a different light and point of view.
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