Mid-August Lunch (Pranzo Di Ferragosto) (U)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner13/08/2009

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 75 mins

Warm-hearted, subtle Italian comedy with likeable characters and an important message, though it does occasionally feel like a sketch that's going on too long.

What's it all about?
Gianni Di Gregorio writes, directs and stars as Gianni, a middle-aged man who lives with his elderly mother (Valeria De Franciscis) in Rome. As it's mid-August, most Romans are leaving the city to take a holiday, so Gianni finds himself reluctantly agreeing to look after the mother and aunt (Marina Cacciotti and Maria Calì) of his building manager Luigi (Alfonso Santagata), in return for looking the other way over Gianni being behind on his bills.

However, just as Gianni is getting used to suddenly sharing his flat with three old ladies, his doctor (Marcello Ottolenghi) shows up with a favour to ask – could Gianni possibly look after his mother (Grazia Cesarini Sforza) too?

The Good
Mid-August Lunch has already drawn comparisons with Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm and there's certainly a mounting sense of absurdity and ridiculousness as Gianni's inability to say no keeps filling his house with old ladies. However, rather than going for absurd satire (say, by having people continue to arrive, like the cabin scene in the Marx Brothers' A Night At The Opera), Di Gregorio subtly switches tack and the film becomes more about Gianni and the women learning to get along with each other.

As a director, Di Gregorio gets terrific performances from his four octogenarian co-stars and the documentary-style camerawork is extremely impressive. In addition, as well as delivering several funny lines and moments of character-based comedy (such as the doctor's insistence on what his mother can and can't eat), the film also has a subtle message about the importance of not just family, but company and friendship.

The Bad
The only real problem with the film is that it occasionally feels like an over-extended sketch without a punchline. To that end, it does drag a little in the middle section, even with the bargain basement running time of 75 minutes.

Worth seeing?
Mid-August Lunch is a likeable, well made and warm-hearted comedy with a subtle but important message. Worth seeing.

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Mid-August Lunch (Pranzo Di Ferragosto) (U)
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Content updated: 17/07/2018 14:50

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