Mascarpone (2021)

“Why would you let someone else drive when you can ride?”

Antonio just got out of a long term relationship, but he is still stuck in a place where he can’t move on. He’s lived as a part of couple since high school, never found himself, and now when he finds himself alone he struggles to know who he is by himself.

This film is a journey of someone learning who they are, and it takes Antonio quite some time to get there. The whole movie in fact. But I like that there’s not a simple answer, and not just one thing that gets Antonio where he needs to be. There are so many people that he meets long the way, and each one contributes a piece of the push and resolution for Antonio.

When Antonio has to find a new place to live he meets Denis. From the beginning we can see that Denis is a free spirit, plays by his own rules even if he makes them up as he goes along. It could have been easy for him to be an unlikable character, but he has some traits that connect him with others.

When Antonio needs a job he meets Luca. Luca starts to get him out of his shell that he’s been in since the breakup, but probably also while he was in a relationship. Granted he is the first one Antonio has a sexual interest in since Lorenzo, but he also provides a connection that was missing. He also provides a place where Antonio’s passion for baking can take thrive as opposed to his previous home where Lorenzo discouraged it.

There’s the clown parade of men that Antonio starts hooking up with with each of them presenting a different alternative path for him. Some of them just want a one night stand while others want a relationship. This finally leads us to Thomas who Antonio makes a connection with, and could possibly have a future with.

There’s something that Denis says to Antonio during a tough moment that I think helps define the journey and the film:

Since we are little we are told that you need to find love to be happy. It’s a rule. You need to grow up and set our own rules. But, honey, if you don’t do that, if you don’t understand who you are, what you want first, you’ll end up and find someone who’s going to set the rules instead of you.

I think this sets the stage for what Antonio is about to do, but he continues to play by other people’s rules – even Denis’s. Eventually we hear the story about Antonio’s grandmother’s take on Tiramisu and the mascarpone you make for it. Her philosophy was that you really can’t just buy the mascarpone at the store – you need to make it yourself. And once you make some really good mascarpone you can even eat it on its own. We don’t really need to spell out the metaphor here…

I like the theme of this film and how it plays out. There are plenty of films about finding yourself or finding the ability to love oneself before being able to share that with others. Mascarpone does this is in a novel way weaving together a tapestry of Antonio’s life until maybe he can realize this. As the film wraps, there could have been more there to flesh out how Antonio gets where he does, but we can also put some of the pieces together ourselves. I think it’s a different way of looking at this in terms of playing life by other people’s rules, and how that can stifle someone in many ways even without knowing it.

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