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Gianni is a middle-aged man living in Rome with his imposing and demanding elderly mother. His only outlet from her and the increasing debt into which they are sinking, are the increasingly frequent quiet sessions at the local tavern. As an Oriental saying goes, 'Moments of crisis are moments of opportunities'. These appear during the celebration of the holiday of Ferragosto on 15 August. That's when everybody leaves town to have fun. Opportunity knocks on Gianni's door in the most unexpected way.Written by
Warsaw Film Festival
Gianni (Gianni Di Gregorio) spends the majority of his time looking after his elderly and demanding mother (Valeria De Franciscis). His bills are way overdue and his fellow tenants are becoming uneasy with the fact that he never puts into the kitty. A friend offers to help him out only if he takes his mother and aunt for a while, and soon his once- quiet apartment becomes overrun with chatty and restless old ladies. After a medical check-up, he agrees to take his doctor's mother on board as well. Soon Gianni is struggling with keeping up with the ever- increasing demands and mischievous behaviour from his new inhabitants.
Ending at around the 71 minute mark, this film does quite a lot in a relatively slight running time. It manages to be sweet, funny and moving in a very subtle way, that doesn't completely hit home until after the film has ended. While a film of similar theme may patronise old age and add sentimentality, Mid-August Lunch portrays old age as something to cherish. The old ladies seem to come to life when together, when previously Gianni's mother had been almost melancholy on her own. The bubbly Marina (Marina Cacciotti) sneaks out at night and a panicked Gianni finds her drinking and smoking in a bar, only for Gianni to have trouble putting her to bed later as she flirts and demands to play cards. Grazia (Grazia Cesarini Sforza) uses it as an opportunity to eat baked pasta, something her doctor son has banned her from eating.
I really got a feel for Italian life from the film - family, friends, great food, fine wine. In fact, the whole film washes down like a glass of chianti. This is a lovely little gem from actor-director Gianni Di Gregorio, and it's dealt with in an unfussy and sensitive manner. Di Gregorio also co-wrote the screenplay for 2008's Gomorrah, which I would also highly recommend.
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