A charming second film from Mid-August Lunch writer/director/star Gianni Di Gregorio and nonagenarian co-star Valeria De Franciscis Bendoni. “Funny, poignant, life-enhancing, and much cheaper than a return ticket to Italy.” — Screendaily
Screened as part of NZIFF 2011
Gianni Di Gregorio, who made an exceptionally charming directorial debut at 59 with Mid-August Lunch (NZIFF09), returns with a more expansive but equally beguiling second feature. Once again he plays a protagonist named Gianni and once again he’s being given the runaround by an aged mother played by nonagenarian Valeria De Franciscis Bendoni. She’s not so disingenuous in her manipulations this time round; she’s simply imperious, a magnificent old wastrel spending his inheritance on house parties, crate-loads of Krug and lavish gifts for the household help.
The Salt of Life’s Gianni has escaped mamma’s domain for long enough to have taken on a wife, who now regards him with affectionate disdain, and fathered a daughter (played by Di Gregorio’s own daughter, Teresa) whose blithe indifference to a devoted boyfriend is the latest in a long line of slights to the male gender. Gianni pines for a time when women returned his gaze and didn’t just see him as an obliging chap with time on his hands who might run errands. He feels the urge to break out, to beguile the lovely young things he sees everywhere… or, failing that, maybe look up some of those old girlfriends scared off long ago by mamma. A wistful, funny ode to female power and a wry apologia for hopeless male fantasy, The Salt of Life provides an effervescent, Old-World antidote to the current Italian Prime Minister’s views of women’s place in the nation’s life. — BG
“Di Gregorio navigates his film with such a sense of delicacy that its tone is never coarsened… [his] film manages to be as charming as Mid-August Lunch; a tremendous achievement.” — Andrew Pulver, The Guardian