A charmer of uncommon delicacy, writer-director Gianni Di Gregorio’s “Mid-August Lunch” (Pranzo di ferragosto) finds a middle-aged Roman bachelor (Di Gregorio again), devoted to his 93-year-old mother, now tucked into his Travestere apartment with four sparkling elderly women over an extended August holiday weekend. There’s banter and simple charisma to go around in this modest, minimal, nearly precious diversion, semi-improvised with non-actors and shot mostly in hand-held video, but it’s the time spent in the cucina that adds the right sensual note to this Mediterranean comedy with neorealist roots. An especially charming side note; Di Gregorio co-wrote the deadly serious, violent “Gomorrah” with director Matteo Garrone, who produces here. With Valeria De Franciscis, Marina Cacciotti, Maria Calì, Grazia Cesarini Sforza, Alfonso Santagata, Luigi Marchetti, Marcello Ottolenghi, Petre Rosu. 75m. (Ray Pride)
“Mid-August Lunch” opens Friday at the Music Box.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published later this year.