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Mid-August Lunch

Submitted by admin on May 19, 2010 – 10:14 pmNo Comment
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Mid-August Lunch (Pranzo di ferragosto) plays off the lark of a whimsical happy-go-lucky but unemployed older guy who takes care of his mom plus a bevy of ladies. These golden girls consider 80 young. The lasses keep the lad busy cooking and doling out medication, a task Gianni Di Gregorio (as the sad sack Gianni) takes to with determination and repeated gulps of wine.

Mid-August Lunch, in Italian with subtitles, has a sweet disposition even while it’s playing out its slice-of-life dramedy. Di Gregorio was one of the writers on the superb Gomorra and also wrote and directed Mid-August Lunch.

Gianni has debt coming out his ears and his landlord helps him out on some repairs even though the condo association wants him kicked out for non-payment. Gianni is reminded that he owes the electric company for a couple of years late fees and all I could think of was how cool his town is to let him slide so long. In Houston they’ll cut you off long before 90 days are over.

Gianni’s lifestyle includes drawing credit at the local wine store. Imagine a typical Montrose coffee shop but instead of espresso the shaggy patrons are sitting outside swilling vino. That’s the kind of quaint community Gianni enjoys. In return for his neighbors looking askance at his financial straits Gianni takes in a couple of his neighbors mothers, plus agrees to take care of his doctor’s mom, complete with complex medicine and food requirements, as a quid pro quo for a checkup.

Mid-August Lunch doesn’t require much to appreciate it other than a good nature. Much of the film, a breeze at under 90-miuntes, devotes itself to diet items and character study. Valeria De Franciscis who plays Gianni’s mother has the best lines and situations. De Franciscis must be in her mid-90s and has no previous acting credits yet she steals ever scene she’s in. Her face is etched with wrinkles so thick and evocative she gives new meaning to the act of not being snippy.

- Michael Bergeron

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