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TOP 100 MOVIES in 2008!
Gianni is a single, middle-aged man, living with his elderly mother in modern-day Rome. Once enjoying a wealthy household, times have turned tough on him, and he is now struggling to make ends meet.
It is August, and everyone who can afford it leaves the boiling city for some seaside relief. When his landlord asks Gianni to look after his mother for a couple of days, in exchange for a substantial acquittal of pending debts, he cannot refuse. But there is also the landlord’s aunt to be taken care of, as well as the mother of Gianni’s doctor, to whom he owes many a favour. Gianni quickly finds himself claustrophobically stuck in a small apartment with 4 elderly ladies: preparing meals, mediating conflicts and watching over their sleep, whilst at the same time juggling with their respective personalities as well as their very specific needs and engaging idiosyncrasies. In the process, unexpectedly, he discovers and experiences just how much they are all still in love with life.
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Gianni Di Gregorio’s first feature film well deserves the prestigious Luigi De Laurentii’s award with which it was honoured during the 2008 edition of the Venice Film Festival.The film, following a very simple storyline, is shot on an extremely low budget, with non-professional actors and minimal cinematography.
But in its simplicity, this little jewel delivers a very powerful message.
A poignant study of contemporary Italian social culture, “Pranzo di Ferragosto” sensitively deals with issues like the breaking down of traditional family structures, the vulnerability of old age, the isolation of the individual but also with the resourcefulness of human creativity, the potential of human bonding and the unwavering desire for a fulfilled and joyful life. The film raises awareness for a pressing issue of modern-day society while simultaneously amusing, moving and gently uplifting its audience. The world it lovingly depicts is stridently real – a myriad of details are subtly observed, and conveyed with a genuineness that further enhances the power of their impact. Characters and performances blur into the very true nature of the human beings involved, and the four elderly ladies are essentially playing themselves, in an endearingly honest and uncompromising way.
Although the film, essentially a comedy, maintains an overall lighthearted tone, its nostalgic, bittersweet resonances are more than evident throughout. It is the aim of “Pranzo di Ferragosto” to make us think and feel. And it accomplishes this in a way which is at the same time exceptionally charming and sensitive, moving and powerful: the viewer leaves the cinema uplifted, and treading somehow lighter, but hopefully also with fresh feelings of empathy and respect, and with a silent new sense of responsibility.
Overall, “Pranzo di Ferragosto” is an invigorating and compelling treat of contemporary Italian cinema, which should not be missed.