Review: Mid-August Lunch DVD

STUDIO: Zeitgeist | DIRECTOR: Gianni Di Gregorio | CAST: Gianni Di Gregorio, Valeria De Franciscis, Marina Cacciotti, Maria Cali, Grazia Cesarini Sforza
RELEASE DATE: 10/5/10 | PRICE: DVD $29.99
BONUSES: interview with Gianni Di Gregorio, A Visit With the Cast, booklet featuring recipes
SPECS: NR | 75 min. | Foreign-language comedy | 1.85:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital Surround | Italian with English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

“Nothing happened!” some viewers might whine after seeing Mid-August Lunch, a delightful 2008 Italian film, in which, well, nothing much happens. But therein lies the charm…

Meet Gianni (Gianni Di Gregorio), a middle-age bachelor living with his elderly mother (Valeria De Franciscis) in Rome. Gianni has a love of wine and a few financial troubles, including debts on their apartment, and thus is stuck in Rome during the Pranzo di Ferragost, a big annual Italian festival (which also happens to be the name of the film in its native county). He soon finds himself taking in his building manager’s mother (Marina Cacciotti) and aunt (Maria Cali) and his doctor’s mother (Grazia Cesarini Sforza), for the weekend, and must cater to their whims and idiosyncrasies in his tiny apartment. For example, one woman makes a killer pasta dish, but another isn’t supposed to eat pasta or tomato sauce. You can see where this is headed, but it’s still deliciously (pun intended) funny.

Veteran screenwriter Di Gregorio (Gomorrah) makes his directorial debut with Mid-August Lunch, and he delivers great shots of Rome and delightful performances by a group of mostly non-professionals, along with all the food footage one would expect. And at 75 minutes, the movie shows that the actor/director/screenwriter knows when to say cut and how to keep the story lean.

Cross Big Night with The Golden Girls, and you might get close to capturing the essence of this film gem.

The modest supplemental package on the DVD also is a lot of fun and features the recipes for many of the dishes that look so luscious in the film.


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About Megan

Megan Quinn is a former contributing editor and movie reviewer for Video Business magazine. She has a journalism degree from the University of Missouri, which she puts to good use raising money for nonprofits in New York. Most importantly, she is Henry’s mom.