When HIV doctor Antonia's (Margherita Buy) husband, Massimo (Andrea
Renzi) is killed in an accident, Antonia is left with memories of her
15-year marriage and a reproduction of the painting "Le Fate
Ignoranti." To add to her sorrow, she discovers that her husband had
been cheating on her for seven years.
As Antonia goes after the clues to find Massimo's secret affair, she
discovers a whole secret life. Contrary to her expectations, she
realizes that her husband had been cheating on her with a man, Michele
(Stefano Accorsi). Stunned by this discovery, she is mad at Michele,
who had kept quiet for seven years and who is also traumatized by the
loss of his love. However, with the realization of their shared love
for Massimo, Antonia and Michele become closer and closer to each
other. In time, Antonia becomes almost a substitute for Massimo in the
world of Michele and his Almodovar-esque group of friends.
Unlike Antonia -- who has a reserved world consisting of her judgmental
mother, a Filipino maid and few coworkers -- Michele has a world filled
with eccentric characters; from a Turkish refugee, to transsexuals and
a bed-ridden AIDS patient. While Antonia's luxury villa is closed to
visitors, Michele's bohemian penthouse is welcoming to all kinds of
people. One thing that seems awkward is that apart from the bed-ridden
Ernesto (Gabriel Garko) all of the quasi-habitants of Michele's
apartment are lacking depth. Their problems and existences are only
referred to. It is as if the rest of the
characters are only there to affirm the existence of the main duo.
Toward the end of the film, Antonia matures into a more accepting and
liberated person. She realizes what life has to offer and begins to go
with the flow. In a way, her realization is what the film aims to
deliver; life has many surprises to offer and the only way to survive
is to accept and follow your heart.
Ferzan Ozpetek's "His Secret Life" ("Le Fate Ignoranti" | (IMDb listing) has a
life-affirming attitude. It declares that everyone regardless of his
or her sexuality, class or race is one and the same. However, while
intending to portray and welcome all types of the human kind, the film
fails to show the emotions that are entailed in achieving this
Nevertheless, Antonia and Michele's personalities are truly elucidated
and both Buy and Accorsi deliver their roles with great intensity and
precision. "His Secret Life" offers impressive acting, luminous colors
and a keen slice of life.
Filmfodder Grade: B+