On the mambo of self-hatred

by Yule Heibel on March 14, 2004

I saw Mambo Italiano on dvd last weekend. It’s very funny and also quite sweet in a disarming, goofy sort of way. Angelo, the main character, is a true anti-hero hero. The movie has some interesting discussion about self-hatred (and conversely, pride) when Angelo’s first lover asserts his Italian pride by bashing Angelo’s supposed Italian self-hatred. Then there’s an interflashment (a sort of flash-back plus interruption and installment) of Angelo’s parents recounting their emigration to Canada — specifically Montreal, Province of Quebec:

Scene: deadpan view of Mr. & Mrs. Angelo’s Parents. The Mr. says, We go to America, only they don’t-a tell us that there’s two Americas: the real America and the fake one, Canada. (Of course, they went to Canada.) And then they don’t-a tell us that there’s two Canadas, the real one where they speak-a English and the fake one, where they speak-a French. (And of course, they go to Montreal.)

Mr. & Mrs. Angelo’s Parents actually have everything they could want for happiness, but it’s important to them to have this POV, which allows them to see everything in terms of self-bashing. It gives them the “right” to pass it on, and part of the movie’s magic is in how Angelo breaks that chain. Quite good. He is a determined asynchronous character.


Joel March 15, 2004 at 9:47 pm

Two battles cause the greatest pain: the battle over who gets to define your identity and the battle over who gets to be the victim.

Joel March 15, 2004 at 9:48 pm

Then again, maybe number two can be subsumed into number one….

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