The most surprising thing about the Italian film Mid-August Lunch is that the film’s director/writer, was the screenwriter of last year’s dark crime film Gomorra. Mid-August Lunch is far from dark and far from crime-ridden. Instead it spins a buoyant and comedic yarn about middle-aged Gianni (played by the director/writer himself) who cares for his 93-year-oldmother in a Roman condominium and is months behind in rent. When the landlord (Alfonso Santagata) agrees to forgo the rent, if Gianni takes care of Alfonso’s mother (Marina Cacciotti), it invites a horde of other geriatrics into Gianni’s flat. As expected hilarity and newfound clarity results.
As much a film about food and etiquette as it is about Italian culture and mores, there’s something undeniably charming about the entire exercise. The performances are natural, effortless and without flaw, while the direction (his debut effort) is crisp and fluid. Additionally, DiGregorio’s text is air-tight and easy to follow and never once does he jump the shark or leave room for interpretation. Though it does end abruptly, there’s little else that’s careless or disjointed about the film.
In a contemporary society where blazing guns, high speed car chases and inane dialogue passes the buck, a film like Mid-August Lunch is a welcome and engaging treat.