I watched Gladiator for the first time and I was high on magic truffles.

My boyfriend won space truffles on a website, so we ate them with M&Ms, while sipping Martinis.  That’s our idea of a fun Saturday night at home, I guess. I’ll tell you what happened next.

It takes a full hour before the trip starts – we checked on the website, where there’s an accurate description of the effects and dosage (get high responsibly, folks)- we are expecting the hallucinations to come blow our minds away soon, and we decided to watch a movie in the meantime. I chose Gladiator from Boyfriend’s old hard disk.

I’ve never had truffles before, it’s my first time, and I’m also going to watch Gladiator for the first time, so I’m excited because I love trying new things. Boyfriend’s shocked that I’ve never seen Gladiator before, because I’m 30 and italian. Well, in my defense, I was 9 when it was released and my parents told me that I was too young to watch that kind of stuff. “It will give you nightmares” they said and – eww ! I’ve just seen a human body being cut in half and fall in two separate pieces, so yes, they were right, it is so graphic I would have had nightmares for sure. But I am not a child anymore : I’m an adult on drugs, and I’m ready to enjoy this masterpiece.

Indeed, I enjoy hyper-masculine movies, they always make me laugh and eye roll – 🙄  which is my favorite mood – and like it or not, this movie is iconic. So many commercials used the music that I already know the soundtrack by heart despite I’ve never watched it before. Speaking of Gladiator and commercials : who remembers this?

Still nothing going on the truffle front though, and it’s already been a hour, so I’m starting to get annoyed, and worried. Boyfriend checks again on the website to be sure that we took the right dosage, and it seems like we had a little more than what’s advised, so it’s quite odd that we still feel nothing. Russell just spoke his famous line : « I will give them something they have never seen before » and I must say that’s not what these truffles are doing to me. Well, maybe the lights are slightly more vivid, but it’s such a tiny difference that it could be placebo effect . Indeed, I’ve seen better filters on Instagram. But let’s not jump to conclusions and be a little more patienct… maybe it’s just a matter of five minutes and then I’ll see flying bananas 🍌  or whatever. I stay positive and confident.

In the meantime, the movie is triggering my national identity enough that I nearly miss Italy. I always feel nostalgic when Hollywood portraits Italy, even though I know it’s just cliches ! But most of the time it’s nice cliches, like Tuscany, for exemple ! The green hills, the cypress trees and the earthly tones color palette… just beautiful 😻  I get Maximus, you know : when I die, I’d also like to see my sexy italian wife welcoming me to our own heaven/manoir up the hill. I like the idea of a private paradise where everybody leaves me alone. Better than Dante’s one, which is a sort of 9rings-shaped luminescent mess.

When I die, please throw my ashes from the top of a hill in Tuscany.

Poor Maximus. The man just wants to smell the smell of plants in his garden and be with his family instead of making war far away from home, so relatable ! But power falls onto him like a curse and he’s forced into it, loses everything because of it and finally, he sacrifices himself to it in order to change it – a classic messianic, hyper-masculine narrative, always entertaining. Guy loses it all, then change the world and get revenge at the same time. It’s so cliche, but when you got 103 million dollars to spend, the cliche looks good at least ! And I’m an aesthetics enthousiast, so well done, Hollywood.

Then suddenly, before I realize what’s happening, I burst into tears. 😭
“Hey! What’s going on? Are you alright?” Boyfriend looks worried 😦  while I blow an impossible amount of snot and tears out my nose into a tissue.
“I THINK IT’S THE TRUFFLES !!!” I scream in a squeaking voice to his face, which is literally next to mine. I’m not sure, but well, I’m suddenly crying out of nothing so yes, I guess it’s probably the truffles. Boyfriend puts on pause and tries to understand the situation. He asks questions that I can’t manage to answer because of all the snot and the squeaking. I try to breathe long enough through the snot to form a full sentence, the most informative one I can : “TRUST ME I’M COMPLETELY NORMAL INSIDE, IT’S JUST MY FACE ! I CAN’T CONTROL IT” I try to reassure him while crying weirdly. Then I laugh so violently than I nearly choke myself with the snot. For the next twenty minutes the situation is completely non sense and I just cry and laugh alternatively while I empty my nose in paper tissues.
“Try to relax” boyfriend says, but I can’t control the volume of my voice or the sticky waterfall that my face has turned into. I’m so surprised of this reaction that I don’t feel any feeling inside other than total weirdness.
“YOU BETTER GET USED TO THIS ! I MIGHT BE LIKE THIS FOR THE NEXT SIX HOURS !” (the website says the trip lasts a few hours) “THAT’S WHY I DON’T TAKE DRUGS! LOOK WHAT THEY DO TO ME! IT’S LIKE THEY HATE ME OR SOMETHING”, but in the end, the non sense laugh/cry phase only lasts half a hour. After that, I get my self-control back, my body starts to feel heavy and I manage to calm down. We press play and go back to the movie.

You know, in hyper-masculine movies there are only a few women and they’re always conventionally sexy. They’re also quite silent and decorative, overall they’re in the story to covre the mother/sister/daughter/girlfriend role and of course they’re cast to please the man’s eye. Italian women are no exception. We have 2 big stereotypes about Italian women : when they’re young they’re sexy and when they’re older they’re mamma. But there’s no mamma in hyper-masculine movies and I’m young enough to be expected to be sexy, so it’s a lot of pressure to, you know, seeing italian women in movies. There’s a huge amount of male gaze in the cinema industry in general, but the italian female is a particular kind of female : not only a woman, but Italian, therefore impossibly stubborn, a little insane and dangerous by default. Of course that’s just another cliche, but it’s worth notice that Italian women are always characterized sensual, exotic, with a strong personality, but also obedient to male authority – because hello, patriarchy! – and somehow always ready to cut male throats in their sleep – because goodbye, patriarchy! – so in the end, the message I get is always : beware of Italian women, because they’re women and italian.
For the anecdote, sometimes, some people feel the need to tell me that they love Monica Bellucci in the exact moment they discover that I am Italian. Why is that ? I find myself in that situation quite regularly, it happened numerous times over these last 10 years. Well, I always nod and smile when it happens, because I get that – as fucked-up it can be – for those people it’s just an attempt to tell me that they appreciate my culture, or whatever : they’re just trying to be nice, and I appreciate that. But you can’t put me and Monica Bellucci in the same sentence without me politely eyerolling internally until my nose bleeds. The comparison is too much pressure. I guess that for non-italians, Italy = delicious food, sexy women and riding Vespa while licking ice cream during summer holidays. It’s just a sequence of images they saw as tourists or on screen, and I am only a trigger for those sunny Italian cliches to come out (no matter if I grew up in foggy, damp Lombardy and have nothing of the Mediterranean beauty – except for the big booty I guess). Well, in the end I’m glad that people think of Monica (and not Silvio, for instance) when they talk to me, I’m just pissed off sometimes that I’m not her and also that sometimes my behavior is classified as « Italian » instead of just bold/arrogant/impulsive/proud.

By the way, of course Italian reality is so much more complex and less appealing than cliches. As beautiful the places can be and as delicious the food can taste, I couldn’t live in Italy without having a nervous breakdown. Nevertheless, when someone compliments Italy, I always take it personally. That, I think is a national thing. We always take the beauty of our country personally. As Italians, we tend to brag as a form of identity (see « Italians do it better », our most famous motto/delirious national ego-trip) and we are quite proud of our culture and country. Even the grumpiest ones (hello, it’s me) will tell you that it’s the most beautiful country in the world, no offense for the others. Through all that beauty, you can even forget for a while that the whole place is ravaged by corruption, bigotry and poverty. You know how it works in the Mediterranean countries : the weather, the lifestyle, the history, the stunning monuments, the UNESCO sites – it all helps tolerate a place governed by clowns. A friend of mine told me once that the beauty of our country makes up for its politics.

Anyway, I can’t relate much to Monica, we have completely different lives, except for the fact that we both are Italians who chose to live in France, I guess. She also played Mary Magdalene, my favorite biblical character, so we can make the full circle and go back to our Christ-Gladiator Russell Crow, the typical hero who doesn’t speak much (a man of action). I particularly enjoyed when he says that Death smiles at Us All and we should smile back, or whatever. Good punchline !

On the truffles side, they are dizzying my view, but nothing so incredible. I stay with my previous statement : I’ve seen better filters on Instagram, so what’s the point? Well, at least I stopped laugh-crying.🙄 

So the movie is over now, and the lesson is learned : vengeance is a dish best served cold. See? It’s always about food when you set something in Italy! Anyway, Joaquin Phoenix plays the perfect toxic spoiled (italian) guy – I know what I mean – he fits the character perfectly and in the end he gets what he deserves. What goes around comes around, bitch.

Regarding the truffles though, I have mixed feelings. In the end, I expected more vivid colors and visual stuff, instead I got weirdly hypersensitive and emotional, which I am already when I’m sober (bummer). I went through that bizarre phase where my mind was fine but my face couldn’t help bursting in tears and laughing uncontrollably – it was kind of fun. The screaming was also quite funny in Boyfriend’s opinion and he enjoyed watching me tripping. Well, I’m always happy to entertain a public, so I guess I’ll leave a reasonably good review on the truffle website. And 3.5 stars to Gladiator.

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