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Pranzo di Ferragosto (Mid-August Lunch) Reviews

Page 1 of 8
Louis R

Super Reviewer

June 10, 2012
Warmly humorous and clever, with a leisurely pace and outstanding performances. Although it may seem like a laugh and that's it, it even reaches a pleasingly subtle depth.
Rubia

Super Reviewer

November 6, 2010
Quite charming and funny.


Harlequin68
Harlequin68

Super Reviewer

August 23, 2011
In "Mid-August Lunch," middle-aged Gianni(Gianni Di Gregorio, who also directed and co-wrote) takes care of his mother(Valeria De Franciscis). This leaves him with precious little money to pay the bills, like the electric which has not been paid in three years. That's all right, says Alfonso(Alfonso Santagata), the condominium administrator. If Gianni takes care of his mother(Marina Cacciotti) for the night, then he will look the other way on some of the late charges. So, what choice does Gianni have? If only Alfonso had also mentioned his aunt Maria(Maria Cali)...

While not what anybody would call substantial, "Mid-August Lunch" goes down easily enough as a droll and charming comedy of manners. One of the most important is to care for the elderly, but not treat them like children. Such lessons are learned on a slow-moving holiday whose rhythms are captured nicely by long takes while also getting some fine footage of Rome in the meantime.
lesleyanorton
lesleyanorton

Super Reviewer

March 7, 2010
Slight and simple film about a aging batchelor who lives with and looks after his even elderly-er mother, and somehow acquires another three old ladies to entertain over the August holiday. Sweet but not saccharine, and unlike the little old ladies, doesn't outstay its welcome.
Nicolas K

Super Reviewer

August 19, 2009
I felt I was actually there watching everything in person. This warm film, effortlessly put a smile on my face with nothing but exceptional performances from the whole cast and very candid photography from the handheld camera. A quirky story about a man that has keeps his smile up no matter what and a bunch of old ladies that just crave to be wanted.
June 13, 2012
This short but sweet film was actually extremely engaging. It also seemed to be a great snapshot of Italian culture. My husband and I are very interested in the culture and have heard how laid back and familial it is. You can definitely feel such characteristics in this film. I loved following Gianni around town and around his home. It's a simple story but it's done so well. It's a film that would be perfect on a busy day, allowing the viewer to slow down and enjoy the small things in every day life. A great film!
jmq0004
August 5, 2010
I enjoyed seeing "Mid August Lunch" at the Tivoli Theatre in Kansas City on May 27, 2010. It's my continued attempt at immersion in things Italian before traveling there this Summer. The film was a slow stroll through the life of an unemployed middle-age bachelor taking care of 4 older women. Great film!
April 16, 2014
A sweet and delicious comedy
March 24, 2013
A delightful (short) comedy. Warm, caring but not maudlin.
December 30, 2012
Mid-August lunch surprised me with the degree of delight it provided. Don't we all want to move to Italy at some point in our lives? Throughout viewing I marveled at the realness of the character's acting. To my delight, I discovered that these women were not actors.. It is the genius of Gianni di Gregorio, actor, director and co-writer of the script that allowed him to draw such fabulous performances from these non-professionals. I felt like I was watching real life and loved what I saw. It buoyed the spirit. In my top 10 favorites.
Louis R

Super Reviewer

June 10, 2012
Warmly humorous and clever, with a leisurely pace and outstanding performances. Although it may seem like a laugh and that's it, it even reaches a pleasingly subtle depth.
November 27, 2011
Possibly the most tedious film I've ever watched.
August 28, 2011
Very enjoyable Italian film.
gillianren
August 26, 2011
Dignity Is Not Just for the Young

On the face of it, this is from a culture which respects its elderly more than the United States. After all, the characters we see all live with their aged mothers still. Essentially all the main character seems to do is take care of his mother; certainly he doesn't have a job or pay his bills. However, it's quite clear that the more successful characters are happy to be shed of their mothers for the holiday. There's no implication that they've ever considered taking their mothers with them. The men have taken their mothers in because that's what society expects of them, but that doesn't mean the family is any closer. At least not in any way but physically, which is arguably the least important. In fact, I'd say it's considered an implication of failure on the part of the main character that he has time to spend with his mother instead of being off living his own life--even by the old women.

Gianni (Gianni De Gregorio) owes everyone. He spends all his time sitting around with his mother (Valeria De Franciscis), and it's going to get them evicted. But his landlord, Alfonso (Alfonso Santagata), makes him a deal. If Gianni will take Alfonso's mother (Marina Cacciotti) for the Ferragosto holiday, Alfonso will forgive the debt. He even sneaks Gianni a key to the elevator he isn't supposed to use in order to make things easier on the old ladies. Oh, and he doesn't quite remember to mention that his mother's sister, Maria (Maria Calý), will be coming along for the deal. Then Gianni has an appointment with his doctor (I'm not sure). The doctor suggests that he will accept a similar deal and brings over his own mother, Grazia (Grazia Cesarini Sforza). Gianni is given a care sheet for her, but Grazia is none to happy with the whole thing. The ladies are not all happy about the initial situation, and Gianni certainly isn't happy with having to provide the level of care they expect, but it ends well after all, sort of.

Really, all the women would benefit from some sort of senior citizens' center. My understanding is that there isn't one; presumably, church and family are expected to take care of that end of things. However, the women seem lonely. Alfonso is lying when he says that he's going to meet his family at a spa; Gianni sees him running off to meet a young girl. But even if he hadn't been, there is never a suggestion that his mother might enjoy going to the mud baths herself. She'd just be in the way. What's more, the women are all old enough so that their friends will have started to die. There's no way to be sure that they would have any friends left in the area--even if they're alive, their children might have moved and taken them somewhere across the country completely. What Gianni provides is not merely a place to stay. It's companionship. It's something as little as people who haven't heard all their stories and might be interested in their recipes.

Large amounts of the movie is five people sitting around in an apartment together. Gianni goes out at one point in search of a store open on the biggest holiday of the summer, and Alfonso's mother sneaks out to go sit in a cafe and drink and smoke, but that's really about it. It's interesting to note that the two women identified by name are also the two who get along best, but it's also worth noting that the characters never really need names. They are never really out of earshot, and they are never in need of a way to get one another's attention. The women are a burden to Gianni, but they are never such a burden that he considers that his life might be better if he went out and got a job instead. He's perfectly content to sit in the kitchen with his mother all day, and it's only when the women's determined personalities come in conflict that he really has any problems with them. It's a slow, quiet film, one that's really more intended to make us think about what life is like than anything else.

Also interesting is that these are not really professional actors. Gianni Di Gregorio was the director and co-writer. Three of the four women have no other film credits, and the fourth (Valeria De Franciscis) only has two others--both after this and one also written and directed by Di Gregorio. Admittedly, I'm limited in my research tools by the fact that I don't speak Italian, but it seems Di Gregorio himself is essentially a novice. This was his directorial debut, and he's only written eight screenplays. I can't help thinking that this is a second career for him, though I can't confirm that, given the aforementioned language barrier. Italian Neo-Realism, to which Di Gregorio owes a debt, also tended to feature non-professionals a lot, often to capture a more natural performance. Who better to know how to portray an old woman ignored by her family than an old woman ignored by her family? Not that I know anything about the women's families, either.
Harlequin68
Harlequin68

Super Reviewer

August 23, 2011
In "Mid-August Lunch," middle-aged Gianni(Gianni Di Gregorio, who also directed and co-wrote) takes care of his mother(Valeria De Franciscis). This leaves him with precious little money to pay the bills, like the electric which has not been paid in three years. That's all right, says Alfonso(Alfonso Santagata), the condominium administrator. If Gianni takes care of his mother(Marina Cacciotti) for the night, then he will look the other way on some of the late charges. So, what choice does Gianni have? If only Alfonso had also mentioned his aunt Maria(Maria Cali)...

While not what anybody would call substantial, "Mid-August Lunch" goes down easily enough as a droll and charming comedy of manners. One of the most important is to care for the elderly, but not treat them like children. Such lessons are learned on a slow-moving holiday whose rhythms are captured nicely by long takes while also getting some fine footage of Rome in the meantime.
February 6, 2011
Will see it tomorrow with Chatham Film Group
Helen J.
August 22, 2010
Mid-August Lunch is about aging and a reminder that no matter how old we are, companionship, stimulating conversation and a good meal are always enjoyable. The film has both amusing and poignant moments, particularly as the elderly women begin to see their weekend in Gianni's care as an adventure and outing. They don't seem to miss their regular life with their own sons and caretakers at all and there is a lesson there for all of us. Despite being a short film it dragged at times.
Academock
April 27, 2010
Mid-August Lunch is a simple film - short and sweet. At only 70 minutes, it stays its welcome and offers quite a few laughs involving some nonprofessional elderly actresses. Writer-director-lead actor Gianni Di Gregorio does a great job with this seemingly fluffy, yet surprisingly deep and bittersweet, material.
vh
April 12, 2010
Gianni, who looks to be about 60 years old, and his mother, who looks to be about 100, share a nice apartment in Rome. Gianni doesn't work -- he doesn't have time to since he spends almost every waking moment tending to his mother's every need -- so consequently he's fallen quite a bit behind on his bills. His only leisure activity is drinking the occasional glass of wine at the local bar where luckily they let him run a tab.

Gianni and his mother get along well and he doesn't seem to mind taking care of her, but doing so has made it hard for him to do things like date and take vacations. His mother seems to be in decent health, though her brown leathery shriveled-up skin gives her the appearance of a lizard wearing a blonde wig. Clearly she spent a lot of days at the beach before SPF 50 was invented.

One day, right before Ferragosto, an Italian holiday in the middle of August when apparently everyone in the country goes out of town, Gianni is visited by the head of the condo board, a guy named Alfonso. Alfonso tells him that the other owners are complaining that he hasn't paid his share of the assessments for several years and that something must be done. He then offers a proposition: if Gianni lets Alfonso's own elderly mother move in for the next couple of days so that he can go on vacation, Alfonso will personally pay off some of Gianni's debts. Gianni isn't too keen on the idea but he eventually agrees because he really needs the money. Gianni's mother isn't thrilled about it either but she suggests that they just tough it out and do their best to make their house guest feel welcome.

The next morning, Alfonso shows up as planned, but he's accompanied by not just his mother, but also his Aunt Maria. Gianni protests, but Alfonso slips him a few hundred euros so he relents. He can't very well kick Aunt Maria out on the street; apparently, leaving little old ladies home alone for the weekend simply isn't done in Italy.

After the two visitors are settled in, Gianni's doctor drops by to check him for a possible hernia. After finishing the exam, you guessed it, the doctor asks if HIS mother can spend the night. Next thing you know he's dropping her off at Gianni's doorstep, along with several bottles of prescription meds and a long list of dietary restrictions. In case you're keeping score, that makes four old ladies in one cramped apartment that Gianni has to take care of. Luckily for them, he's an excellent cook; he dons his apron and starts whipping up a feast.

Mid-August Lunch was made on a very low budget. The actor who plays Gianni is also the director -- in fact his real name is Gianni -- and the women who play the little old ladies are really just little old ladies, not professional actresses. And Gianni's apartment in the movie is actually his apartment in real life. Essentially, he just wrote the sparest of stories, hired some old ladies to spend the weekend in his apartment, and filmed it. Surprisingly, it works.

Not a lot happens in this film -- certainly nothing out of the ordinary. The women all behave quite civilly towards each other from the start, and other than a minor spat involving the location of the television set, everything goes fairly smoothly. Gianni runs back and forth between rooms trying to smooth ruffled feathers, dole out medication, serve meals, and comfort an insomniac. Though three of the women have been essentially dumped in the apartment for the weekend and Gianni only agreed to watch them for the money, the mood gradually turns from everyone trying to make the best of the situation to everyone having a grand old time. There's no high drama or hilarity here, but it's still a pleasure to watch.
Michael H.
March 24, 2010
A sweet, charming film with marvelous little (in a good way) performances. Fells like you just dropped in for a visit and happened to catch Gianni in the midst of patiently placating his family and neighbors and working out a series of mini-crises.
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