The Salt of Life

89 minutes

If you didn't particularly enjoy Mid-August Lunch, the surprise hit comedy that revealed screenwriter Gianni di Gregorio's talents as a director and actor, it's unlikely you will enjoy what is, essentially, a rerun of the same loosely-scripted, quasi-improvised comedy. If you did enjoy it, on the other end, you may be disappointed that Di Gregorio avoided doing Mid-August Lunch Part II.
To be fair, The Salt of Life harnesses the same format in the service of a different ambition. Even if Di Gregorio stars again as another fictional Gianni who is essentially a "handyman" to all the women around him, the film explores the bittersweet realisation of aging and what that means to one's self-image and self-confidence. This Gianni is a sixty-year-old "househusband" who becomes suddenly aware his age has counted him out of the sex game; complaining he has become "transparent", and unwilling to go gently into that good night, he attempts desperately to reverse his misery to dispiriting returns, in the best tradition of classic Italian comedy.
It's a more constructed and less slight film that Mid-August Lunch, but despite the greater seriousness, you feel that Di Gregorio hasn't necessarily grown as a filmmaker: there's still the sense of a single-serving joke stretched very thin to feature length, and the plot doesn't so much wrap up toward the end as peter out with no actual sense of closure. Still, the film's sincerity and spirited hand-made feel make Di Gregorio the one contemporary director openly working within the classic Italian comedy tradition.
© 2011 Jorge Mourinha. all rights reserved by the author

Starring Gianni di Gregorio, Valeria de Franciscis Bendoni, Alfonso Santagata, Elisabetta Piccolomini, Valeria Cavalli, Alyn Prandi, Kristina Cepraga.
Directed by mr. Di Gregorio; produced by Angelo Barbagallo; screenplay by mr. Di Gregorio, Valerio Attanasio, based on a story by mr. Di Gregorio; music by Stefano Ratchev and Mattia Carratello; director of photography (Technicolor), Gogò Bianchi; production designer, Susanna Cascella; costume designer, Silvia Polidori; film editor, Marco Spoletini.
A Bibi Films/Isaria Productions/Rai Cinema presentation/production. (World sales, Fandango Portobello.)
Screened: Berlin Film Festival 2011, Berlinale Special press screening, Cinemaxx Potsdamer Platz 9 (Berlin), February 11th 2011.


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