Mid-August Lunch
 
January 6, 2011
7:00pm & 9:00pm
Silvercity Theatre
 

Mid-August Lunch

Italy
Director: Gianni Di Gregorio
Cast:
Valeria De Franciscis, Marina Cacciotti, Maria Calμ,
Grazia Cesarini Sforza, and Gianni Di Gregorio
Runtime: 75 minutes
Language: Italian with English subtitles
Rating: PG
 

“Charming and gently hilarious film features extraordinary cast of elderly characters... a gem whose intelligent, gentle, deadpan, humour is entirely irresistible...”
- Natasha Senjanovic, Hollywood Reporter
 
“The droll Mid-August Lunch is a tribute to the gentle skills of Italian filmmaker Gianni Di Gregorio, who not only wrote and directed this unhurried chamber piece but also starred in it as a character he named after himself.”
- Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
 
“A droll geriatric comedy set during a Roman holiday in the heat of summer.”
- Liam Lacey, Globe and Mail
 
“Mid-August Lunch is a sweet-spirited gem, warmly comic while showing the hassles of caring for aging relatives more honestly than 10 family sagas from Hollywood.”
- Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star-Tribune
 
Awards:
Best Film, Venice Film Festival; Audience Award, Bratislava Film Festival

From its first minutes, “Mid-August Lunch" establishes a special tone and quality that could only be Italian. It's a mixture of warmth and gentle farce, tender observation and absurdity.
 
A man in his late 50s cares for his very elderly mother, and it's clear from the first minutes that he's an exemplary son but also something of a likable good-for-nothing when it comes to paying bills and making a living. In a similar way, the old ladies who become the focus of the film are comically idiosyncratic, yet one is hard pressed to find another film with such unforced appreciation of its elderly characters or such intelligent understanding of old age.
 
In Italy, this film is called "Pranzo di ferragosto." Ferragosto is a huge Italian holiday (Aug. 15), celebrated since the time of Augustus Caesar. Businesses shut down, and everyone goes away to the countryside or to the beach.
 
But Gianni (Di Gregorio), who owes money to everybody, is stuck in Rome with his mother for the holiday. And because he's in no position to say no, he agrees to watch the property manager's mother, Marina, for the weekend, and Marina brings Aunt Maria with her. Later, Gianni's doctor barters a house call in exchange for letting his mother, Grazia, stay at the condo. So Gianni finds himself caring for four women, each a strong personality with particular needs.
 
Lurking underneath the surface of "Mid-August Lunch" is a touch of sadness that these vivid ladies are getting dumped by their families. Yet this is submerged by the ways in which the women overcome personality differences to forge their own relationships and make their own celebration.
 
There's a lot going on in this little gem. There are observations about Italian men and their mothers, about the comic ironies of life and about the needs of old age - all of it filtered through a warm, humane consciousness. Di Gregorio may be a late bloomer, but he's found his calling.

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