Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Mid-August Lunch (Pranzo di ferragosto)
Want some Italian for lunch? It will be hard if you happen to be in Rome in mid-August, during the Italy's biggest holiday Ferragosto Assunzione—almost everybody leave the town on vacation and many shops are closed, unless you are a tourist or you cannot go anywhere like those ladies in Gianni Di Gregorio's charming directorial debut "Mid-August Lunch" (Pranzo di ferragosto | Italy 2008 | in Italian | 75 min.).
Bachelor Gregorio (Gianni Di Gregorio) is a devoted son living with his 93-year-old mother in an old apartment building in Trastevere, rione XIII of Rome. He is broke and owns money to the building manager, as well as local shops. The building manager makes a deal with Gregorio: if Gregorio can take care his mother when he is on mid-August vacation, he will reduce the debt. Gregorio reluctantly takes manager's mom in, as well as manager's aunt who comes along, and as well as his doctor friend's mom. Gregorio miraculously juggles around these difficult ladies with his culinary skills, his patience, and his alcohol beverage.
The film does not have any dramatic event, yet, it elegantly unfolds a simple story and keeps us completely captivated and delighted. We get first hand experience about how the slow life during the national holiday and how difficult to babysit these ladies who have strong personalities on a hot summer day.
The terrific performance by the ensemble cast is like an authentic Italian home cooking meal—hearty, flavorful, and satisfying. Good-natured gentle humor fills the screen throughout, and just when we crave for more, the credit begins to roll.
Although the film does not show much detail about the food Gregorio cooks and how he cooks, from how those ladies bribe him in order to stay for another meal, the food must be delicious.