Recommended: Pranzo di Ferragosto (Mid-August Lunch)
How can I entice you to see this film, available on DVD (from Amazon, $22)?
A calmly cowed, bit of a drinker middle-aged son (played by the writer and director, Gianni di Giorgio) lives with his 93 year-old faded-aristocratic mother (Valeria di Franciscis). The money is gone, but her virtuoso ability to manipulate endures.
He is inveighed upon to lodge several other very senior signoras over the long August holiday weekend, and the games begin.
Like a Campari and soda, you will taste the bitter with the sweet. The unsentimental yet tender film is set in the Trastevere neighbourhood of Rome, mostly within the director's own apartment.
"I live in my memories", one woman says, "Old age offers so little." Yet each finds her way around the strictures of 'caregiving' and control. The sense of rebellion is more luscious than cannoli; each woman, in her way, sticks it to The Man, or should I say, I Bambini.
"Don't bother me", the ringleader says when caught AWOL, "I'm smoking, I'm drinking, I feel good here."
There is no dramatic denouement. It's just life on a hot August weekend when everyone who can travel on his or her own steam is out of town. If you recognize the immutable desire to wrest joy from the moment even if it nearly kills you (at least according to your hovering doctor son), you will eat up the kindly but pointed subversion.
Consider it a training film for becoming a feisty, authentic elder–or the child who loves her.