|6:30 p.m.||Mid-August Lunch|
Gianni di Gregorio (Italy, 2008)
(Pranzo di Ferragosto). Middle-aged and impecunious Gianni lives with his aged mother in her large Rome apartment. The morning before the mid-August Pranzo di Ferragosto (Feast of the Assumption), when most Romans flee the hot city, the building manager tells Gianni that some of the apartment owners plan to sue him. But, if Gianni takes in the manager’s mamma for the night, he will handle most of Gianni’s overdue bills. It turns out the manager’s aunt also needs lodging. Che fai? It’s an emergency, Gianni and his mother agree. A doctor friend then calls on the stressed Gianni, only to ask that in lieu of payment he take in his own mamma until the next day. In Italy, caught between tradition and the modern world, caring for the aged is an especially complicated problem. But four nonnas! Financially cornered, Gianni (played by director di Gregorio with wry resignation) musters all his charm to manage the needs and determined personalities of his guests. The contrasts here between brightly lit but distant exteriors and the deeply shadowed but up-close confines of the apartment—reinforced by a score blending Argentine tango with traditional Italian and Balkan music—captures the muted vibrancy, warm humor, and, equally, the social isolation of Gianni’s ladies. Pranzo di Ferragosto, however, brings a table bathed in sunlight and a toast by four happy new friends. A deal’s a deal, though, and the several sons will soon return—unless these mammas manage a deal of their own.
—Sidney J. P. Hollister
• Written by di Gregorio. Photographed by Gian Enrico Bianchi. With di Gregorio, Valeria de Franciscis, Marina Cacciotti, Maria Cali. (75 mins)