Road to the Lemon Grove does its best to show its father and son story differently. Instead of pearly gates, Angelo Contantini (Charly Chiarelli) stands in front of a plane hangar. But just like most of these afterlife stories, God (Loreena McKennitt) won’t let him go through to the other side. He needs to make peace with his estranged son Calogero (also Chiarelli, who co-wrote this movie).
This reconciliation involves returning to Sicily, where father and son both came from. Calogero thought he was coming to Sicily alone, but Antonio’s ghost haunts him. Chiarelli does his best to make distinctions between the two main characters he took on playing. Prosthetic makeup plays a part as well as an Italian accent that takes Italians back by half a century.
The movie also does its best to establish Calogero and Antonio’s contentious relationship. Both father and son try to navigate American life, young Calogero (Tomaso Sanelli) being just as confused as Antonio. Antonio gives Calogero a difficult time for not picking up English easily. This would make for meatier material. But director Dale Hildebrand, who is also a cinematographer, shot this with a filter that looks like snot.
Calogero’s inferiority complex pushes him to teach the dying Sicilian language on a University level. This is the only interesting part of the movie. I’ll also give Chiarelli credit for competently giving off a professorial air.
Like most reconciliations, this is not the easiest for both father and son. We can say the same towards the experience the audience might have of watching said reconciliation. And that’s because the movie mostly shows Chiarelli having verbal arguments with his older, CGI self. And if he’s alone, he’s yelling at himself, as if reading from a script that he wrote in all caps.
The movie’s script does have some subplots that don’t get unwieldy. In Sicily he meets Maria (Rossella Brescia), an actress, and introduces himself to her by inappropriately touching her. They somehow end up being good friends despite of that. But thankfully, he stops romancing her. Their friendship, now, has more to do with him getting rid of Antonio’s ashes and making peace with him.
With or without Maria, Calogero meets the Sicilian branch of his family who his father never introduced him to. This also means facing involving the titular lemon grove that he inherited but only half cares about. The movie has more complications because of a missing lawyer which feels like an unnecessary contrivance. Which is basically what most of the movie feels like.
Road to the Lemon Grove opens in major Canadian cities starting August 30th.
- Genre: Comedy, Drama
- Release Date: 8/30/2019
- Directed by: Dale Hildebrand
- Starring: Charly Chiarelli, Loreena McKennitt, Rossella Brescia, Tomaso Sanelli
- Produced by: Chris Gunther, Dale Hildebrand
- Written by: Charly Chiarelli, Dale Hildebrand
- Studio: Lemon Grove Motion Pictures
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