Saturday, August 27, 2011

Mid-August Lunch


Mid-August Lunch (Pranzo di Ferragosto) opens with Gianni reading The Three Musketeers aloud to his mother, Valeria. They converse a bit about it, and soon she falls asleep. Gianni's kindness, the gentleness of his response to her questions, and the deep contentment on her face show the viewer a kind of love which is rarely seen in a movie.

We don't know what Gianni did before, but what he does now is take care of his mother. I wasn't exactly sure of the living situation but it seemed like they live in a condo, but not what we Americans think of as a condo. It has the look of a simple, somewhat shabby apartment. When the manager comes by, we learn that Gianni is way behind on his fees. But there is an alternative. He will forgive the debt if Gianni will take care of his mother, Marina for the weekend. Naturally, Gianni agrees. When he brings Marina, he also drops off her sister, Maria. And while Gianni is figuring out arrangements, his doctor shows up offering medical care (for a slight heart ailment) in return for Gianni taking care of his mother for couple days.



So there is Gianni taking care of four elderly women. It seems they know one another, but only slightly. It also appears that these women are mostly housebound in their own homes, and that this weekend is a big adventure for them all. Gianni is run off his feet cooking meals, making sure each one is comfortable, keeping his mother happy, moving the little tv from room to room, and chasing after one of them who has taken off without telling him.

Gianni is rarely seen without a glass of wine or a cigarette, and lord knows the man deserves them!

Gianni is a wonderful cook. He creates little masterpieces in his kitchen which has no granite counters or fancy cabinets or appliances.


August 15 - Ferragosto or Assumption Day, is a national holiday in Italy, and the lunch Gianni makes, with the help of his friend, Viking is the centerpiece of the film.


By the end of the film, these women have become fast friends, and are reluctant to go back to their former lives. I like to think that this celebratory lunch was only the first in a long line of get-togethers provided by, of course, Gianni.

I saw this movie last summer at our little small town theatre, and just recently watched it again on Netflix instant. It is also available on dvd. I may buy a copy for myself because I love it so much. I've never seen anything quite as joyful and kindly.



Mid-August Lunch is my offering for this week's Weekend Cooking. Please visit Beth Fish Reads for more writings on food related topics, and perhaps join in yourself.

Addendum: I just came upon a nice interview with the man who plays Gianni, (and who is also the director), here.

25 comments:

  1. This movie sounds delightful. When I first looked at the picture it reminded me of a friend of ours that lives in a condo surrounded by women. Of course everyone is of an age and he loves to cook. There is a gang of women that often congregate at his apartment for dinner. They have lots of fun together.

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  2. Oh me, oh my. Just that trailer was enough to plunge me right back into the experience of caring for Mom. Let's face it - an elderly person can be a hoot and a chore all at the same time. Four old women at once? Mama Mia!

    This one is going on my must-see list. It looks absolutely delightful. And now I have a taste for pasta...

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  3. Shoreacres, it's a wonderful, wonderful movie! And those women are fantastic. I think I read somewhere that they aren't actresses.

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  4. I've never heard of this movie! I'm going to look for it though.
    Here's My Recipe

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  5. What a charming storyline. Thanks for posting this as i would not have known about this movie otherwise.
    I love food-centered movies, and the idea of the women being "real People" not actresses makes it even more appealing.

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  6. Vicki, it's so great!

    The Book Girl, if you come back and see the 'addendum" there's an interview where he tells how he chose the women.

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  7. This sounds like a wonderful film -- good to know that it's available on Netflix (seems the only way I see movies these days).

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  8. Dawn, I so love this movie. I rarely go to movies away from my tv. :<)

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  9. i enjoyed your post on Mid-August Lunch. From your post and the trailer I know this is exactly the type of movie I love! Can't wait to see it!

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  10. I will have to look for this one, it sounds fabulous. I am sure the Italian atmosphere is gorgeous!

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  11. It is rare that I am interested in a movie because of the review - but you managed to make me want to watch this one :-)

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  12. Oh wow. I am going to stream this one today if it's available to me. What a great story -- I know I'm going to love this film. Thanks for letting us know about it.

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  13. I would love this movie. Interesting situation, touching characters--and I love movies that have cooking in them!

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  14. Now I MUST see this film too. I sounds delightful. I hope the movie show what they are eating for lunch.

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  15. Just added it to my queue on Netflix. Great trailer!

    Completely off topic, but do you remember the title of the movie in which all the women gather together, I believe on an island. Or maybe it's just near a body of water. Most, if not all, are middle-aged. I think it was a British or Canadian film.

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  16. Sounds wonderful, I want a Gianni in my life!!
    Carole

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  17. Annie, I was glad to come upon a trailer, since it shows the essence of the film. Really a lovely movie. I already want to see it again.

    Rikki, it is a different sort of 'Italian atmosphere' than we usually see. This isn't the Tuscan countryside. It is a area of Rome, with graffiti on the walls, and tiny little grocery stores. It is mostly an interior film. But perfect.

    Well, Librarian, I can't tell you how that pleases me. I'm quite sure you'll like it. (and your parents might too!).

    Hope you can see it, Beth. That trailer is true to what the movie is about. The gentle humor and the kindness.

    Mary Lois, I think you will love it.

    Margot, it's the best movie.

    Les, I did remember it, but not the name so I typed some words into google and found out the title: Strangers in Good Company. I added it to my Netflix instant queue and will watch it again soon. Thanks for the reminder!

    Carole, he is the dearest man!

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  18. That sounds enchanting! and perhaps quite restorative for people with elderly mothers?! I shall see if they have it on Lovefilm (I never go to the cinema as a rule - too far!)

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  19. Geranium Cat, is Lovefilm like Netflix? Is Netflix available there? I guess I thought it was a worldwide thing, but maybe not.

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  20. A little gem of a movie about eating and old age. I liked it very much, too.

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  21. lgraves, wasn't it just wonderful?!

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  22. Nan, after I read your review of the movie, my husband and I watched it this evening. I loved how Gianni cared for the women with such tenderness. And I wanted to dance with the them all at the end of the movie! --Catherine Mary

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  23. Lesley, I do miss the movie blog you kept. It was wonderful.

    SO good to hear from you Catherine Mary, and it pleases me no end that you watched the movie after reading about it here.

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