Mid-August Lunch: A meal to remember

As part of the Panorama of the European Film currently held in Cairo comes Gianni Di Gregorio’s debut film, "Mid-August Lunch."

It’s strange how only older people or children are wise enough to enjoy the little details of life.

Di Gregorio’s feature film opens with the story of a caring middle-aged son who lives and looks after his old mother. Gianni agrees to do a favor for two of his friends, which is to look after both their mothers during the mid-August national holiday. Mirroring Italy on that day, the elderly women’s lives are like vast empty streets. But as with old buildings lining such streets, they hold cherished memories which they continue to share with one another.

The humming of grandmothers in hallways, the secrets of cooking pasta, and the silly demands of old women are portrayed with realism. Drawing on personal experiences and depicting old women who have never acted before, Di Gregorio, who also happens to be the lead actor in this film, shows us the lives of four women who are grateful to share a lunch together and wise enough to seize the magic of the moment.

Gianni, who has never married, suffers from numerous physical pains and does not possess half the older ladies’ energy. They chat all day and night and are happy to be able to spend time together, refusing to leave until late and begging to have their stay extended. Left alone after his friend falls asleep in the extreme August heat, Gianni agrees that the women can stay for longer. The film ends when he finally unburdens himself as their chaperon and starts to befriend them. He ends up dancing to their tunes, taking part in their chit chat, and enjoying himself to boot.

The film leans towards a documentary style as it reveals how an individual changes on being touched by the hand of time. The wrinkles that contour his mother’s lips, yet her consistency in wearing makeup revealing how despite aging, she still fells beautiful. The way a pasta dish becomes the ultimate desire of Gianni’s mother’s friend. Or how the third woman refuses to sleep early and goes out to enjoy the young night.

As one grows older, a lot of details are washed away by time. This film reminds us that a love of life remains our last line of defense

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