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.