Mid-August Lunch [Pranzo di Ferragosto]

"Very Good"

Mid-August Lunch [Pranzo di Ferragosto] Review


This warm Italian comedy takes a look at generational issues without getting preachy about it. Filmmaker-actor Di Gregorio's almost fly-on-the-wall style continually catches us off guard with its humour and insight.The middle-aged Gianni (Di Gregorio) lives with his mother Valeria (De Franciscis). It's August, when Romans abandon the city for their holidays, and since Gianni is behind on his condo fees, he agrees to care for the mother and aunt (Cacciotti and Cali) of the building manager (Santagata), who wants to take a holiday with his girlfriend. Then Gianni's doctor (Ottolenghi) drops off his mother (Sforza) as well. But can Gianni survive in his flat with four lively, feisty old women telling him what to do?Since Gianni is unemployed, everyone assumes that he doesn't need a holiday. He manages to grab time to himself here and there, but most of his life is spent tending to his mother, and now these others as well. So it's intriguing to see Gianni rise to the challenge, which allows the film to gently explore how society deals with its older members. There's no sermonising here, but it's clear that Gianni's approach enriches both his life and these four women.Everything about the film is understated, from the acting to the cinematography, which takes a documentary approach to each scene. Everything looks utterly normal, and the film is packed with real-life touches and throwaway moments. The dialog alone is a minefield of offhanded comedy, as characters drop witty details into the mix, from Valeria's mistrust of anyone new to the doctor's strict guidelines for his mother's diet. All of this is played in a way that draws out smiles of recognition and outright laughter.There realty isn't a story, although the seemingly banal events seem to be building to either a confrontation or a moment of insight. Indeed, it's all leading to the eponymous lunch, the Ferragosto celebrated on August 15th to mark the middle of summer. More important is the fact that this is also the Holy Day of Obligation, which is clearly the point De Gregorio is making. And of course the ultimate revelation is that caring for the older generation an obligation at all.


Facts and Figures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Gianni Di Gregorio

Producer: Matteo Garrone

Starring: Gianni Di Gregorio as Gianni, Valeria De Franciscis as Valeria (Gianni's Mother), Maria Calì as Tia Maria (Alfonso's Aunt), Marina Cacciotti as Marina (Alfonso's Mother), Grazia Cesarini Sforza as Grazia (Marcello's Mother), Luigi Marchetti as Vikingo, Alfonso Santagata as Alfonso, Marcello Ottolenghi as Marcello (Doctor)

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