ITALY’S ANSWER to Walter Matthau follows up his delightful arthouse hit MID-AUGUST LUNCH with this sequel-of-sorts, plying a similar hang-dog vein as the put-upon man of the house surrounded by demanding women.
Central to these is his mother (played by veteran Valeria de Franciscis), who he must care for while also suffering the demands of a no-nonsense wife and party-loving daughter. There must be a lady out there, Gianni surmises, who won’t take him for granted.
Cue a series of hugely enjoyable set pieces, where the man is fawned over by younger ladies (who want to adopt him as their grandfather), while being dragged on a dubious date by the suitably sleazy Alonso (Santagata). Gianni, though, never loses his gentlemanly manner, and neither does this absolutely charming take on life as a still-vibrant sextgenarian with a renewed lust for life.
Gregorio, the film’s star and director, came to wider prominence as one of the voices behind the startling Italian crime vehicle GOMORRAH. Prior to that, he’d enjoyed a life largely behind the scenes, allowing others to bask in the applause.
SALT OF LIFE suggests there’s more than merely life in the old dog yet: here, again, we have an infectiously witty and engaging screen presence with an awful lot to say about life in the modern world. Gregorio’s own view appears to be awash with dignity and delightfully old-fashioned.
Whether he continues to mine his current love of whimsy or not, the 60-year-old continues to demonstrate an innate sense of timing with a confident display of comedic flourishes. If life now does begin again at 60, Gregorio is clearly the man to take us there. A wonderfully adroit comedy for grown-ups and those with a zest for the good things in life.
Critical Rating: 9/10.
SALT OF LIFE is in cinemas from December 22.
First published in The Sun-Herald.