As single joke movies go, this droll, happy-go-lucky miniature from Gianni Di Gregorio is easily one of the better ones.
As single joke movies go, this droll, happy-go-lucky miniature from writer-director-actor Gianni Di Gregorio is easily one of the better ones. The joke is an oldie but a goodie, essentially suggesting that we mature from children in to adults, then in our twilight years, those ingrained, naïve impulses from our formative years return to see us through to death.
Di Gregorio makes for a charming lead as Giovanni, a good-natured, though directionless middle-aged man who enjoys a tipple whenever he can get one. He lives with and tends to his beloved, liver-spot dappled mother in their pokey apartment in Rome, exploiting his tragic situation in order to get out of paying rent.
He is one day confronted by the superintendent, who offers him a proposition: if Giovanni will watch over his mother for the mid-August Ferragosto holiday, then he would be willing to overlook those long-due payments.
Gianni accepts. Then he’s saddled with an extra aunt. And then the doctor arrives, and someone needs to look after his mother too. From then on it’s virtually a babysitting movie, albeit and amusing and lively one, with Giovanni charged with cooking meals, putting the women to bed, tending to their dietary and medical needs as well as lifting them out of their sporadic strops.
It’s a difficult film to dislike, but there is a nagging feeling that it could have been even better. Di Gregorio’s choice to play for laughs and have his own character as a broadly comedic eye-rolling overseer means that there’s no moment of realisation or emotional pay-off, however subtle, to suggest that this experience has affected him at all. The direction, too, is a little erratic, with some shots beautifully framed and lit, and others very murky and needlessly ambling.
Won the Satyajit Ray Award at last year’s London Film Festival, if that means anything to you.
Very sweet indeed. Provides mild giggles a-plenty.
A little too light and loose for its own good.