B R I E F   S Y N O P S I S
Maria and Gino's (Ginette Reno and Paul Sorvino) world is shattered when their son Angelo (Luke Kirby) decides to get a place of his own. "What is so wrong with living with your parents until you get married?" they ask. Initially relieved when Angelo's childhood buddy, a cop named Nino (Pete Miller), decides to move in with their son, all hell breaks loose when they discover that Nino and Angelo are more than just roommates—they're (gasp) lovers! A heartfelt comedy directed by Émile Gaudreault, based on a play by Steve Galluccio.
  Mambo Italiano

The remark that I get a lot when I tell people what I do for a living is: "Great job, going to work everyday to be God on the set." Okay, let's get something straight...on a movie set, I am not God. The truth is, on a movie set I am only a slave—the slave of the scene I am trying to get right at that moment.

If I were God, I would just think about the scene, it would appear on the screen and everybody would save a lot of time and money. But the reality is less magical: I am in the middle of the set, sweating like a pig, trying very hard to make a scene work.

Usually, after I explain that to someone, there is an uncomfortable silence because of their disappointment and because I can be a little intense. Then, my interlocutor, trying to ease the tension, will add: "But hey, you do comedies, that's great, you must laugh all day long!" Not really. When I try to get a scene right, I rarely laugh. And when I do, it's rarely a good sign.

I don't laugh because I'm all focused on the actors working on a scene. I say "Action!" They do the scene and it's not funny. Sometimes it will be funny on the first take, but that's too rare. So most of the time it's not funny and everybody turns to me, thinking: "Wow! That was funny." And I smile and I am enthusiastic and I want everybody to be relaxed, especially the actors, and I say: "Excellent! Let's do it again!"

Most of the time, it's at that point that my interlocutor starts to doubt my expertise, telling me that I don't know what I'm talking about, that for sure when Robin Williams or Mike Myers is shooting a comedy, everybody has fun on the set. They know it, they've seen it on "Entertainment Tonight." I then explain that even comedic geniuses are not funny most of the time. Of course, they are comedic geniuses, so, between takes or even during takes, they ad-lib amazingly funny stuff for the crew and everybody is laughing. But I would bet that the person who is laughing the least on the set is the director. Because he or she has only one thing in mind: that damn scene has to be good. And funny. And even if he or she laughs with everybody because of what Robin or Mike just said, most of the time, if they put it on the screen, the audience won't laugh.

Why? The crew is rolling on the floor, laughing their heads off! True. But you had to be there. That's why if I laugh on the movie set, I know that it's only because something happened that was not planned. And you had to be there to find it funny. I know the scene and the lines by heart, and I have a pretty precise idea of how it must be said to be funny. It's like a small musical phrase I hear in my head. So I'm basically waiting for the actors to give me that music. The melody can vary for sure but the rhythm and tone have to be right.

Usually, the actors, after a few takes, find the rhythm of the scene, the lines bounce with each other, a fluidity is obtained and it's like a miracle: it works. And everybody feels it. The actors, the crew, everybody feels that that take was different, that the scene was nailed. And there's no better feeling.

We all can move to the next scene and I have the strange feeling of being proud of something I haven't done. The actors have been good, not me. Yes, I'm the director but I can't direct an actor to be funny. An actor has the talent for comedy or he hasn't. Few of them have it. And it's always amazing to work with one who does.

Watching a good actor working is quite an impressive experience. Great acting is a combination of total abandon and extreme precision. As a director the only thing I can do is what I call extreme watching and extreme listening. For me, it's like an out-of-body experience. I am outside myself, very close to the actors, listening to every intonation, watching every vibration, making sure that the tone, the rhythm, the emotion is right. And when a scene is perfect, I feel like I can taste it, savor it.

In Mambo Italiano, I had the chance to work with a wonderful group of actors. All of them are good. The shooting was tough and the editing seemed never-ending, but it's great to watch the finished product with an audience. I still don't laugh a lot. But the audience does and I like that a lot. It makes me feel divine.


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