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VENICE 2008 Critics’ Week/Italy

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Grey-haired humour has the Lido in stitches


Grey-haired humour has the Lido in stitches

The Italian contingent is very large this year on the Lido, with each section having several Italian titles. The Critics’ Week is no different, with Pippo Mezzapesa’s Sogno di una morte di mezza estate screening as the non-competiting closing film and Gianni Di Gregorio’s delightful comedy of manners Mid-August Lunch (Il Pranzo di Ferragosto) [+see also:
film profile
in competition.

The Italian Ferragosto holiday on August 15 (day of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary), is probably the most boring day of the year in the Roman capital. Everything is closed, as the Romans desert the hot city en masse and flee to the nearby lakes or the sea. However, there is still a buzz at the flat of octogenarian Valeria (Valeria De Francisis), where she is looked after by her middle-aged son Gianni (played by the director).

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In the typical style of a comedy of manners (though less concerned with class), Valeria and Gianni get stuck with three ladies of Valeria’s age over the Ferragosto bank holiday. The penniless mother, an aristocrat, and son had to accept a deal that would reduce their debts but seems them playing host to the mothers of various other people fleeing the capital.

Gentle situational comedy ensues as the personalities of the four old ladies clash with each other and with Gianni’s efforts to please all the guests as well as his mother. As the title indicates, food is one of the main agents used to placate the grey-haired vixens.

The small-scale comedy was produced by Archimede, the production company of director Matteo Garone (Gomorrah [+see also:
film review
film focus
interview: Domenico Procacci
interview: Jean Labadie
interview: Matteo Garrone
film profile
), on whose films Di Gregorio has collaborated several times. Rai Cinema co-produced, while Fandango will distribute the film in Italy on Friday. Sales are in the hands of Fandago Portobello Sales.

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