Subtitled "Diary of a Male Porn Star", this Italian melodrama offers a few surprisingly sweet moments but never overcomes the narcissism it's ostensibly deconstructing. The story of a hustler with a heart of gold, "Adored" has made the festival rounds since screening in Berlin's Panorama last year under its original title, "Poco piu di un anno fa" (A Little More Than a Year Ago). Wolfe, a distributor of gay-themed videos, marks its domestic theatrical debut with the film, which looks unlikely to set the niche market on fire after opening in April in Los Angeles.
"Adored" tries to be too many things, none very convincingly: plea for tolerance, docu-style character study, old-fashioned weepie. The film clicks in its offhand observations of Old World hypocrisy but too often resorts to purple prose and pronouncements masquerading as dialogue.
Writer-director-actor Marco Filiberti, in his first big-screen effort, alternates between two time frames in relating the fictional saga of Riki Kandinsky, a gay porn star living la dolce vita in Rome. In 2014, documakers seeking an interview with Riki's brother, Federico (Urbano Barberini
), spark flashbacks to 1999, when the two men reunited for the funeral of their father and became true friends.
An unwholesome businessman who had married into French aristocracy, the Soldani patriarch protected Federico from the truth about his younger sibling. Curious about Riki's life, and unconsciously seeking escape from his controlling fiancee (Francesca d'Aloja), Federico returns to Rome with Riki (Filiberti) and soon becomes part of his inner circle. He's especially drawn to sculptor Luna (Rosalinda Celentano
, onscreen as Satan in "The Passion of the Christ"), Riki's celibate, ethereal soulmate who voices humorless philosophical tidbits about art, love and libido.
Filiberti has a certain charm but needs more disciplined material. He portrays Riki as a hero in the Romantic mold, hungering for immortality, beloved by many but understood by only a few. His friendship with an orphaned boy inspires a sense of responsibility to something other than the lens, but even as the protagonist begins to question his priorities, the helmer-star revels in self-adoration.