Friday, March 30, 2012


The Salt of Life (Gianni e le donne)

The Salt of Life Getting old and losing youth's sexual appeals is no fun. However, watching others who dealing with this touchy yet inevitable process can be entertaining. It's especially the case if you are watching Gianni Di Gregorio in his charming and delectable comedy "The Salt of Life" (Gianni e le donne | Italy 2011 | in Italian | 90 min.).

This is 62-year-old write/director/actor Gianni Di Gregorio's second feature film, a semi follow-up to his equally delightful debut "Mid-August Lunch" (Pranzo di ferragosto) four years ago.

Some characters remain the same as in the previous film: 50-year-old Gianni (Gianni Di Gregorio) is still a devoted son to his demanding and charismatic mother Valeria (Valeria de Franciscis), who is over 90 years old. However, they no longer live together. Valeria lives in her luxurious home playing pokers and drinking expensive champagne with her friends, while Gianni lives in an apartment in Trastevere, rione XIII of Rome, with his unaffectionate wife (Elisabetta Piccolomini), his daughter Teresa (Teresa Di Gregorio) and his daughter's laid-back boyfriend Michelangelo (Michelangelo Ciminale).

Every day, newly retired Gianni looks in the mirror, he sees an old man who is losing his sexual appeal to women. When he looks over the streets, he seems other old men sitting around doing nothing, a depressing portrait of his destination.

Yet, he longs for the attention from beautiful women who are in their prime. He wants to remain relevant in the game of courtship. He dreams to be young again. He continues his bittersweet journey searching for love.

Gianni Di Gregorio, Valeria de Franciscis Bendoni, Kristina Cepraga and Lilia Silvi in The Salt of Life

It's remarkable that almost all the characters in the film are funny, eccentric, colorful, and kind. That doesn't mean they don't have issues. Even listening to them arguing is enchanted—they sound like singing. The film makes me want to sit down with them in the sun and sip a glass of chilled chardonnay while listening their stories. Any story, even about growing old.

The film never stops delivering clever humor that keeps a big smile on my face throughout its running time. Gianni Di Gregorio has established his signature style in telling stories about his protagonist's day-to-day life in Rome. He uses Gianni's irresistible charm to lead us into Gianni's fascinating life that is slower in pace, rich in content, gentle in manner, and poignant at times. You wonder how it's possible for Gianni not be able to succeed in finding love even his physical appearance fades due to aging.

"The Salt of Life," a Zeitgeist Films release, opens on Friday, March 30, 2012 at Bay Area theaters.

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