Ferragosto: a major Italian holiday, celebrated August 15, that involves an elaborate meal. The majority of the population goes out of town for a few days. (Americans, think “Thanksgiving weekend”)
Pranzo: lunch or dinner
Youth, beauty, materialism, and other facets of contemporary culture permeate the cinema landscape today. Mid-August Lunch (2008), a gem of a movie, is the antithesis of these themes and should not be missed. The storyline is gentle, uncomplicated but rich, and leaves the viewer with considerable substance on which to ponder long after the film is over.
The movie begins with Gianni, a middle-aged man who lives with and cares for his elderly mother in her small apartment in Rome. Gianni inadvertently finds himself providing respite care for three additional elderly women, whose families have gone away on holiday to celebrate Ferragosto. Initially displeased with their disposition, after being dismissed to the care of a complete stranger, the women and Gianni try to make the best of this rather awkward situation. Liberated from the confines of their prescribed roles within their families, the women’s more youthful, true personalities begin to emerge as the afternoon evolves. Later that evening, one of the women confides to Gianni, “We live on memories. Without memories what would you do?” The following day the women and Gianni prepare their own Pranzo di Ferragosto celebration meal, creating new memories for each of these new friends.
Mid-August Lunch is a directorial debut for Italian actor and screenwriter Gianni Di Gregorio who also plays the central character of this film. The calculated simplicity of this story and the cinematography, which features close-ups of the actors, images of the delicious meals prepared, and quintessential scenes of Rome work together to create a rich story. The viewer readily connects with the characters, seeing the individual within each of the women, as well as the caring and generous Gianni. Foreign language film viewers who oppose subtitles should not dismiss this movie. The dialogue is not complex and moves at a comfortable pace; the viewer quickly forgets she is reading subtitles. Charming scenes of the story unfold during the final credits… do not shut the DVD player off too quickly. I urge you to see Mid-August Lunch, and, if you are like me, you will tell your friends and family to do the same.
Check the WRL catalog for Mid-August Lunch (Pranzo di Ferragosto)