User Reviews (20)

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  • MLogo6 April 2009
    I loved this movie! It's a little movie that totally captivated me. It's the story of a middle-aged unmarried man who lives in Rome with his mother. Money is obviously tight but they seem to live a very nice life. Unfortunately, the condominium bills keep piling up. So when the head of the condominium offers to forgive the expenses in return for his caring for the condo head's mother for 2 days (over Ferragosto), he agrees. When the mother shows up, an aunt also comes - obviously a packaged deal. Through another act of fate, another elderly woman comes to share the overnight experience. The women are wonderful as is the main actor (Gianni DiGregorio) - he is also the writer and director. He was at the showing I attended and shared some interesting info. These women are not actors. One is his aunt and one is a family friend. He found the other two at a home for the elderly. Said he interviewed 100 women and had trouble deciding because so many were so wonderful. The crew was exhausted at the end of the day - these women were on a roll - and all were over 90 years old. The apartment in which he lived was actually the apartment in which he had lived with his mother. This was a low- budget film which was one of the reasons that he starred in the film, i.e., he couldn't afford to hire a "real" actor. Thank you Gianni for a wonderful movie!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The events of this "small" (and short: just 75 minutes) movie take place in Rome, in the popular Trastevere district, over two days: the 14th and the 15th of August. Those are the eve and the holiday of Ferragosto, when everybody in Italy wishes to be out of town with their loved ones, friends or family, to enjoy a relaxing day in the cool. This is not the case of Gianni, a middle-aged, single man, who finds himself trapped in his own home with his elderly mother. Gianni has a problem with money (from the appearance and location of his house, and the refined, posh way of speaking of his mother, we soon learn that he belongs to an impoverished high middle-class family), so when the manager of his block of flats proposes to cut off all his debts if he provides hospitality for a couple of days to his own elderly mother, Marina, Gianni cannot refuse. For a few hundred Euros he agrees also to look after to "zia Maria", the manager's elderly aunt. Later, after an umpteenth free call, Gianni cannot refuse to give hospitality to his doctor's mother, Grazia, an elderly woman on a strict diet. Gianni manages to find beds for the three women and finds himself full-time employed in their care: cooking all their meals, helping Grazia to get asleep, coping with Marina's whims, helping the ladies to get along... Many funny moments follow,especially due to the eccentricity and sometimes childishness of the elderly ladies. None of them is played by a professional actress, and their spontaneity is put to great effect. In spite of the comedy and the light tone, what you get here is a movie filled with serious, even somber themes: the role of elderly people in our society, their loneliness, the inability of their children to deal with them. But we also see the liveliness of the ladies, their desire to live a full life till the end, their respect for those who have a kind word for them. A well-made, important film, which deserves the success it's having in Italy.
  • To help pay some debts, Gianni, an unemployed, single, middle aged man, agrees to look after four very old women for a night. Antics DO NOT ensue, as you might expect, but friendship food,and joy. The director, Gianni Di Gregorio, wrote it, acted in it, used his own apartment, based it on an incident in his own life, and then and cast the women from hundreds of non-professionals. The result is a unique and brilliant short story of a film. It was pointed out that August 15 is Feast of the Assumption, and that in religious mythology Mary "having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory". The old women in this movie are also ascending to heaven without death, and the movie glories in the blessings and quirks of old age. If you love your mother, Italy, or Italian movies – see it!
  • The cliché of the Italian bachelor living at home with a doting mother who waits on him and prepares his favorite meals is turned on it's head in the delicious Italian treat, "Mid-August Lunch." In this film, unemployed fifty-ish bachelor Gianni (Gianni Di Gregorio) shows respect for his ninety-something mother by taking good care of her and lovingly preparing their meals.

    The small family has been living off of credit for some time and is months behind on their maintenance and electric bills for their ancient apartment. The landlord is willing to forgive the dept if they take in his mother so he can get away for the Mid-August holiday. The landlord drops off his mother AND his aunt. And soon the doctor's mother joins the mix. So Gianni must survive the weekend playing good host to four strong-willed shut-ins. What impressed me most was how he never loses his manners but treats these woman with the respect earned by those who have reached a certain age.

    This is a film about the joys of entertaining. It illustrates the isolation that comes with aging and our continued need to socialize. There is an Italian saying, "A tavola no s'invecchia," that articulates the theme perfectly, "The passage of time is suspended with experiencing the pleasure of good food, good wine and company."

    "Mid-August Lunch" dishes up "slice of life" humor with simple, authentic Italian flavors like those in the perch with potatoes, oregano and rosemary lovingly served at the holiday feast.

    Movie Blessings! Jana Segal, Reel Inspiration
  • Simple and Beautiful. The story of a bachelor living in Rome with his aged mother. They struggle to make ends meet. Forced to take in three elder ladies to help pay the bills, the couple makes the best of the situation. The new "nuclear" family enjoys the dreaded August heat in Rome by sharing the simple joys of life.

    A joy to watch.

    True art when someone can make a story like this so memorable. If you tired of the big budget extravaganza films with too many special effects and big time actors and want to get back to the art of film, "Lunch in August" is a perfect alternative. In Italian.
  • Writer/director Gianni Di Gregorio is also the star of this delightful little film about loneliness, tolerance, and seeing the silver lining. The film glows with a richness of spirit that is very satisfying and humorous and uplifting. Apparently Pranzo di Ferragosto (or Feast of Assumption) is that holiday in mid august when all Italians head for the shore so get away from the heat. Gianni lives in Rome with his very elderly and demanding mother (Valeria De Franciscis), broke, with mounting tabs at the grocers and the winery, but he prides himself in his culinary skills with which he keeps his mother satisfied. He spends his days whopping and sipping wine with his old friend Viking (Luigi Marchetti). When his friend and condo manager Alfonso (Alfonso Santagata) pays a visit to remind Gianni how he is behind in his rent and obligations for the condo, Gianni is depressed but Alfonso has a plan: take care of his mother (Marina Cacciotti) during the weekend of Pranzo di Ferragosto and Gianni's debts will be forgiven. Gianni agrees as does his mother, but when Alfonso arrives with his mother in tow he also brings his aunt (Maria Cali) who also needs a place to stay in Alfonso's absence. The local doctor (Marcello Ottolenghi) pays a house call to check on Gianni and his mother and in passing asks Gianni to look after HIS mother (Grazia Cesarini Sforza), too. This leaves Gianni with a full house, a shared television, minimal beds, but they all make do and with the help of his old friend Viking the two to entertain the three old ladies. They cook a fine mid-August meal and the old lades dress up and dance, having more fun than they have had since their youth.

    It is a slight story but one told with a warmth and compassion that is endearing to experience. For light but tender entertainment this film is a major winner!

    Grady Harp
  • Gianni (Gianni Di Gregorio), who is well into his forties, has no job or income and still lives in his comfortable family home with his ageing mother. She is a capricious but refined woman who requires a lot of attention and even more patience. Gianni offers her those but can barely squeeze a little life of his own in there. When those around him escape from Rome for some fresh countryside air in the mid-summer weekend, he finds himself left behind in the empty city with a motley of elderly ladies.

    I suppose many people will amuse themselves wondering if Mr Di Gregorio is playing himself, or at least a little... as the Gianni in the movie is somewhat removed from normal society. He seems to have accepted that he will be taking care of his mother, at the expense of having his own life. This is a rare form of self-sacrifice in our day, and shows, through our own eyes, our expectations of an individual's life. Can you live a full life without a romantic relationship? Can you feel content without being able to provide for yourself (and your family), without perusing some kind of personal development? How far from the ordinary can you be removed and still feel content about your life?

    It is not easy. Gianni needs money and yet does not work. Of course if he would work, then who would take care of his mother? Should he be working to be able to pay for a home for her, so that he can start a relationship of his own? Then his mother would be all alone, unhappy and less well taken care of than in the company of her own son. The dilemma of the ageing society laid bare.

    When we see the elderly ladies laughing and interacting together, it is almost as if a choice has to be made in society, that either the elderly or the young have to sacrifice themselves for the other. This awkward thought is dispelled later on, at least somewhat, as the characters all find a place for themselves in this unexpected weekend away without leaving. This is a touching and funny film, which should have been released here in May when everyone has one foot at home and the other in a long weekend away. It would have added a nice tie-in with the reality around us.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    We saw this gem of a small movie at our local preview club. What a gem! If you're looking for big-issue movies or blockbusters, forget this one. This is a simple, very Italian story about a man who lives with and takes care of his mother, and the surprising joy he, mama, and their new friends receive during the Italian holiday of "ferragosto," when everyone who's anyone leaves Rome on holiday.

    In fact, having spent a good deal of time in Rome, I can say with confidence that this movie is more than just Italian. It's as Roman as the Forum, Piazza Navona, or Giolitti's ice cream.

    The cast, largely filled by non-professionals, is wonderful, sweet, and very real. Our "hero," if you can call him that, wonderfully played by director and writer Gianni de Gregorio, has the perfect puzzled and world-weary face for this (non-)journey in the Roman mid-summer heat. He's reminiscent of Jerry Orbach with a major Italian shrug.

    There's nothing trite here, and nothing not to love.
  • Agnelin24 August 2010
    "Pranzo di ferragosto" is one delightful, insightful, funny and unpretentious little cinematic jewel, whose director, script writer and main actor, Gianni DiGregorio, proves to us that it doesn't take a huge budget, big stars, lots of witty dialogs or 120 minutes to make a masterpiece, and one which goes back to the golden age of the Italian comedy and Italian realism.

    The story is very simple: Gianni, a middle-aged Roman who lives with his mother in an old Trastevere apartment, is first kind of "blackmailed" by his landlord to take the the latter's mother at his home for the Italian midsummer holiday. He gets more than he bargained for when the mother is accompanied by an unannounced aunt and when later his doctor also asks him to take his mother, in addition to Gianni's own mamma, of course. Each of the old ladies has her own personality, quirks, preferences, etc. and Gianni will have to do his best to keep them all happy. This will lead to a wholly enjoyable 75-minute ride for the viewer.

    One thing that I loved about this movie is that it depicts old age in a respectful, humorous and optimistic light -the old ladies are not at all old in mentality and spirit, and they keep enjoying life to the most, each in her own style. I also enjoyed how the film is full of little sketches of very real everyday situations in which we can all see ourselves -sitting with a friend without needing or having any life-changing conversation, looking out to the city while smoking a cigarette, sitting with your family or people you care for, sharing a dinner, having small talk, the joy of reunion and togetherness and the joy of having a home... those scenes were very heart-moving and very meaningful to me.

    My rating is 10/10 for a new instant favorite of mine.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    We recently caught this delightful Italian comedy at the Film Forum, where we watched it with an almost capacity crowd. It was a sweet discovery, specially on a Manhattan rainy day that became more bearable after we came out of the theater.

    Gianni, a bachelor man living with his elderly mother in Rome, has a lot of financial problems. It is August, one of the hottest months of the year to be stranded in the city without any prospects of going anywhere at all. Gianni, who is facing hard financial times, is visited by Alfonso, the manager of the condominium, where he is living. This man offers Gianni a deal he can't refuse, and at the same time, he will be helping his friend, who is suffering some serious skin problem that must be taken care of. In exchange for letting his mother stay a few days, Gianni's debts will be excused.

    As with anything this shady, the favor comes with strings attached. Gianni is taken aback when Alfonso arrives with Marina, his mother, and his aunt Maria. Gianni watches in horror as Alfonso and a gorgeous woman get into a convertible heading probably to a nice resort. What is he going to do? How can they keep these guests in the apartment? To compound on the problem, Gianni's own doctor asks for his help him taking in his mother, as he must attend a medical congress. Since he hardly can refuse the kind doctor, a third elderly lady, Grazia, who must keep a strict regimen, arrives to this already crowded household.

    Things go bad at the beginning, but with a little bit of camaraderie and good humor, Gianni ends up cooking for the four ladies and in the process has a great time because he is kept busy trying to please everyone. As with everything Italian, there is always a light touch to the way all these people end up accepting the situation and having a great time, enjoying the company of all newly made friends.

    Gianni Di Gregorio is a screen writer whose credits include a collaboration in "Gomorrah", among other films. He is trying his hand as a film director. The result is a movie that feels fresh and almost improvised. Mr. Di Gregorio's best achievement is giving his audience real people with real, everyday problems. He also makes an impression as an actor in this funny account of a Roman household during the oppressive heat of August.
  • druid333-229 May 2010
    Gianni is a man entering the later years of his life. He has no job,no wife,drinks perhaps a bit too much for his own good,but seems to be content in looking after the needs of his somewhat demanding mother. They both live in a flat in the centre of Rome,despite the fact that Gianni hasn't paid the rent in three years. The landlord offers to wave the rent money if Gianni will look after his equally aged mother for the weekend,which Gianni has no choice but to say yes to. Gianni ends up the care taker of a house full of elderly Italian ladies for the weekend (the landlord shows up with not just his mother,but her sister,as well). Add on top of that,his doctor manages to sweet talk Gianni into also looking after his aged mother. Gianni now has to play host,wet nurse & baby sitter,all rolled into one (eccentric behavior,hissy fits & other things figure into it)for four demanding women. All of this makes for a low key,loving homage to family love & respect for the aged. Gianni DiGregorio,screenwriter of the acclaimed Mafia drama,'Gamorra' from a few years back,wears three hats in the gentle comedy/drama,'Pranzo De Ferragosto' (released in most English speaking countries as,'Mid August Lunch' (director/co writer,with Simone Riccardini,as well as acts in the central role as Gianni). Gian Enrico Bianchi is the director of photography of this (mostly)chamber piece,with editing by Marco Spoletini. Most of the cast go by they're own names,with Valeria DeFranciscis,as Gianni's mother,Maria Cali,as Aunt Maria,Grazia Santagata as Grazia,Alfonso Santagata as Alfonso,Marinina Caccoiotti,as Alfonso's mother (yep,you guessed it), Marinina,with Maricello Ottolenghi,as the doctor,and Luigi Marchetti as Gianni's neighbour & friend,Viking. This is a film that will appeal to those who are tired of the usual glut of Hollywood bombast (car chases, explosions,graphic violence and sexual situations,not to mention vulgar language),and want a breezy,Italian comedy/drama that goes down like a nice piece of light,Italian puff pastry,with no ill effects. Not rated by the MPAA,this film serves up little that could offend,outside of much drinking of alcohol,and a bit of smoking. Would possibly bore most under the age of 35.
  • Don't miss this cozy film about life with ordinary adults but guess what, they show us that we can be extraordinary and beautiful.

    I wanted to be part of the lives portrayed - - if not a full-time member of this little society at least part-time.

    I loved the late, great Jerry Orbach and Gianni Di Gregorio is the Italian Jerry Orbach. Wonderful portrayal of a human living to be his best.

    Enough edge and anticipation to make the movie realistic. A wonderful story of people who want to live and know how to live right.

    Beautiful light, great direction and cinematography.

    Go on! Brave the sub-titles. It's worth every second.
  • Gianni (Gianni Di Gregorio) spends the majority of his time looking after his elderly and demanding mother (Valeria De Franciscis). His bills are way overdue and his fellow tenants are becoming uneasy with the fact that he never puts into the kitty. A friend offers to help him out only if he takes his mother and aunt for a while, and soon his once- quiet apartment becomes overrun with chatty and restless old ladies. After a medical check-up, he agrees to take his doctor's mother on board as well. Soon Gianni is struggling with keeping up with the ever- increasing demands and mischievous behaviour from his new inhabitants.

    Ending at around the 71 minute mark, this film does quite a lot in a relatively slight running time. It manages to be sweet, funny and moving in a very subtle way, that doesn't completely hit home until after the film has ended. While a film of similar theme may patronise old age and add sentimentality, Mid-August Lunch portrays old age as something to cherish. The old ladies seem to come to life when together, when previously Gianni's mother had been almost melancholy on her own. The bubbly Marina (Marina Cacciotti) sneaks out at night and a panicked Gianni finds her drinking and smoking in a bar, only for Gianni to have trouble putting her to bed later as she flirts and demands to play cards. Grazia (Grazia Cesarini Sforza) uses it as an opportunity to eat baked pasta, something her doctor son has banned her from eating.

    I really got a feel for Italian life from the film - family, friends, great food, fine wine. In fact, the whole film washes down like a glass of chianti. This is a lovely little gem from actor-director Gianni Di Gregorio, and it's dealt with in an unfussy and sensitive manner. Di Gregorio also co-wrote the screenplay for 2008's Gomorrah, which I would also highly recommend.

    www.the-wrath-of-blog.blogspot.com
  • This film is wonderful.

    The actors are wonderfully authentic.

    A man who lives with his elderly mother agrees to take care of some elderly women in return for a break on some bills he owes to the condo association. (He is somewhat of a slacker)

    The human dynamics is spot on and wonderful to watch.

    The acting is perfect. Especially by the lead actor director.

    An unexpected gem. If only there were more of these films made. Cannot think of enough good things to say.

    Take a little bit of a risk and you find films like this.
  • This gentle movie, about a middle-aged man left caring for some elderly relatives (and non-relatives) during a public holiday, is notable for some fine performances from a truly aged cast; at least one member was 94 when the film was made. It's quite perceptive about the way that old people interact; and it's younger male lead (played by the writer and director) is also shrewdly drawn. What there isn't is any real plot beyond the set-up: there's almost unlimited potential for disaster here, but none of it ultimately happens. The result is mild, in places amusing, but something short of riveting: rather like visiting an elderly aunt's for tea.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A thoroughly charming and introspective movie, focusing on a middle-aged man (Gianni di Gregorio) and a quartet of elderly ladies who move in to his tiny apartment in a trade with the administrator for falling behind on his condominium fees and rent. One of them is his mother, she was already there of course, and if I had to guess, the actress Valeria De Franciscis has to be one of the oldest, if not THE oldest woman ever to appear in a movie. And yet, she appeared in a couple more before she passed away earlier this year!

    As the story starts out, you don't feel very much empathy for Gianni as he appears to be lazy and almost a con man in the way he shirks his financial responsibilities. But as the picture progresses, and the overnight visitors arrive, it appears that Gianni has to work harder at being a good housekeeper than any salaried job might require. Yet he does it with such equanimity and good spirit that it's impossible to judge him as a ne'er do well.

    Though you wouldn't classify this film a comedy, there are a number of humorous moments that occur involving all the players. I got a kick out of Gianni spiking the chamomile to put the ladies to sleep so he could get some rest himself. Gianni's mother came up with that 'staff of command' business I never heard of before, and Marina was a hoot, getting frisky with Gianni and looking for a little naughty attention if I may be so bold to say. Grazia with her forbidden macaroni casserole was another comical event causing Gianni untold frustration in keeping all of these diverse personalities in check so they wouldn't over extend or hurt themselves.

    The finale had some bittersweet tenderness to accompany it, as the women, some of whom fell out of sorts with each other to begin with, wound up being best of friends who wanted to preserve their moment of happiness around the dinner table forever. With it's quiet denouement, the movie allows us to reflect on the passing of time and how growing older doesn't have to be a time of loneliness and sorrow, a lesson we all expect to face some day.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is a real pearl in the flood of movies that pass our steps - we have a few thousand - unassuming, simple and heart-warning, about an elderly guy (about my age) who takes care of his mother, full-time. Economically, it it is a disaster, but then one day the owner of the house where he, and his mom, is living in, comes and wants the rent, and all the other costs, that are outstanding, unless he takes owner's mom as a border over the weekend, and then lady after lady arrives, till he has a handful of them in the little flat. But he just manages it.

    His best friend Viking helps with the shopping, and then the weekend is over, but the ladies refuses to leave, and that's where we leave the scene. A real pearl of a movie, well worth all its prizes! Seldom is a DVD so well done as in the 'Mid-August Lunch': as the first interview with the writer/director/main actor is another pearl (the director talking about the film and its ladies), while the second interview concentrates of his life, and the ladies, slightly more formal, but just as great! The third interview is solely about the ladies, and the other male actor Viking (actually called Vichingo) - equally good, with the director as the interviewer.

    Great interviews, great ladies! A truly must-see!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Ordinarily I praise minimalism without reservation, but with Mid-August Lunch I must protest: It's too short (75 minutes) because the elderly ladies are precious and meant to be expanded as characters. This short-story like drama depicts a middle-aged man, Giani (played charmingly by writer/director Gianni Di Gregorio), babysitting four lively ladies mostly in their eighties.

    Not much happens, a characteristic of minimalism, except an AWOL and attempted seduction by the randiest and most youthful of the ladies. Otherwise, Giani goes to the local bodega to buy supplies and imbibe wine while he girds himself for the day of his charges.

    It's all pleasant, local color with a hint of a theme about the dignity of the elderly and the importance of memory.
  • If we compare movies to art genres, then this movie would be a quick virtuoso sketch. We (at least the foreign viewers) never get the full picture or the depth a painting would provide, never get to know the characters in depth, we don't know their stories (the ladies tell bits of their stories, but can we fully believe them?), we never find out anything about the main character or what led him to his current situation, but this is not a social study, this is rather a study of the particular ambiance of a steamy summer day (and night, and another day), an anecdote, a situation comedy and ultimately a declaration of love for the 70+ ladies who despite all their quirkiness probably epitomize the very heart of Italy.
  • The film is about a Roman man named Gianni who lives with his 93 year old mother in an old apartment in Rome, Italy. He hasn't paid rent or maintenance in years. In order to settle his debt, he agrees to take elder Italian women like his mother whose families go on holiday or vacation abroad leaving them behind in Rome. Instead they stay at Gianni's apartment with his mother. The guest goes from one to four quickly. Soon the apartment is filled with laughter and life again. The four women are very distinct in personalities but they get along. This film is very short about 75 minutes or so. The cast including the elder actresses do a splendid job in their roles. The setting of Rome, Italy is wonderful where you see how Romans live for real.