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Pranzo di ferragosto

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I saw a delightful Italian film today, Pranzo di ferragosto (Mid-August Lunch,) a lovely comedy involving a slacker, middle-aged man, and four elderly ladies all trapped together in a Rome apartment in the heat of August.

Writer-director Gianni Di Gregorio wrote the script, directed the film, and plays the aging bachelor who lives with his 93-year-old mother but does little else besides care for her and fend off their debtors.

When the mid-August holiday approaches, the manager of his apartment complex comes to Gianni with a proposal: he'll cover some of Gianni's condo debts, including an enormous electricity bill (unpaid for 3 years), if Gianni agrees to look after the manager's mother for a couple of days, so he can take a holiday. Gianni has no other choice but to agree.

The fun, of course, begins when the manager appears with not only his mother Marina, but also his aunt Maria in tow. Soon after, Gianni's doctor shows up and makes a similar offer -- keep his over-medicated mother, Grazia, while the doctor works a night shift at the hospital, and Gianni's medical bills will be forgiven.

These women are a handful. They appear docile enough, willing to be parked by their families for a few days. But once their sons are gone, they decide they want to do what they want to do. Much wine is consumed, good food prepared, and the August holiday celebrated as it should be: among good friends.

The Trastevere flat where most of the action occurs is beautiful to look at -- nothing fancy, although he has a beautiful wall of copper pots and pans. But the flat, plus Gianni's shopping trips for food and wine, give such a lovely little glimpse of Rome that it made me homesick

It's a bit hard to believe that Gianni Di Gregorio's team for this little film was also responsible for producing the eye-opening crime drama Gomorrah two years ago. Both are brilliant but obviously very different.

Comments (11)

This sounds like a great film; thanks for the review!

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Sandra, I love comedies and this sounds like a movie I would really enjoy. And as you wrote, it's a bonus when they are filmed in places we love. One of my favorite movies filmed in Rome is Roman Holiday. I can watch it over and over.

Thanks so much for writing this wonderful review.

sandrac:

Hi Annie, it really is fun and the ladies are wonderful to watch!

Kathy, that's definitely one of my favourite films, too -- Rome is so beautiful. I even enjoy watching Three Coins in the Fountain, even though the situations are so ridiculous -- but the scenery is so gorgeous!

Boy, this film sounds right up my alley! I pretty much love any film filmed in Italy.

Sandra, is it available on DVD?

sandrac:

Hi Susie, I think it's going to be released on DVD next month. And it's the sort of film that would be just as good watching a DVD as on the big screen!

Loved the review - we saw the film a few months ago and loved it. I particularly appreciated those unlikely friendships that develop amongst the characters.

sandrac:

Hi Jerry, I agree -- it was so interesting to see the relationships that developed. A very good argument for keeping up all kinds of friendships!

I am going to hunt this one down! It sounds perfect for a rainy weekend!

I watched this free on Netflix streaming the other night. I had put it in my cue even before reading your review (although back then it wasn't in the free streaming section yet).

Fun movie! The scene when he was making the chamomile tea cracked me up.

I was amazed at the empty streets in Rome when they shot the vespa or was it motorcycle scene of the 2 men going out to get the fish. I wonder if it was shot just really early in the morning when everyone still sleeps since the sun looked like it was early OR if it was shot during Ferragosto?

I loved all the woman but especially liked the mother of the doctor. Cracked me up when she was eating the macaroni in bed. She reminds me of someone I have known but can't put my finger on (not the eating in bed part) but her general personality.

Hope all is going well with you. Happy Thanksgiving :)

If this is a double comment - delete it. Couldn't get it to work on my first try.

Kathryn:

After reading your blog entry, I requested that the EPL get this film. They ordered it and finally we watched it tonight with the interviews of the cast and director. We enjoyed it, but my Italian has not progressed enough to turn off the subtitles.

sandrac:

Kathryn, I'm the same. The conversation just flies by too fast!

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