Ciao, opening this weekend in limited release, is a quiet, affecting story of two men unexpectedly brought together by the sudden death of a common friend.
As Jeff (played by Adam Neal Smith) undertakes the sad task of going through the recently-deceased Mark’s e-mail messages to inform acquaintances of his best friend’s loss, he discovers a romantic correspondence Mark was having with Andrea (Alessandro Calza, who also co-wrote Ciao’s script). What’s more, Andrea is due to visit from Genoa, Italy in just a few days.
Andrea is initially inclined to cancel the visit, but Jeff invites him to come to Dallas and stay with him rather than waste the plane ticket. Andrea accepts the invitation, and a weekend of increased awareness of their late, mutual friend as well as each other results.
Directed and co-written by Yen Tan (who previously made the award-winning gay film Happy Birthday), Ciao realistically conveys the vacuum that is often created through the death of a loved one. However, I didn’t find it maudlin or depressing; in fact, the movie is pleasantly hopeful in tone. It becomes a story of discovery between two men previously unknown to each other and from different countries.
While Jeff and Andrea’s time together provides some closure of their individual relationships with Mark, it opens up a whole new opportunity for friendship and love between the two of them. Benefiting from fine performances from its intimate cast, Ciao is well worth seeing.
Watch the trailer here.
Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.