Posted by: greercn | October 8, 2011

Gianni e le donne (The Salt Of Life)

Reader, I searched for any reason for the use of “The Salt Of Life” as the English title, given that “Gianni and the Women” would be an accurate description, title and translation. There isn’t one, other than my hopeful intuitive inference. No references to salt, other condiments or any metaphorical use of “salt” troubles the Italian or the English subtitles. It’s a puzzle.

2008’s  “Pranzo di ferragosto” (“Mid-August Lunch”, released in the UK in 2009) was a very charming small film about dealing with financial difficulties and ageing.

Gianni (di Gregorio) continues to be a very attractive character. He is still beset by women problems. Between his daughter, wife and mother, all of his hours are taken up by seeing to the needs of strong women. He has retired, but his wife is still working, so all “housewife” functions fall on him.

There are lovely and languid moments here. The dog-walking scenes – particularly when he walks the huge dog of the beautiful and young neighbour – are fabulous. Observations and the sweet softness of taking life on the chin are the main attractions here.

There really isn’t any place for the concerns of young people and I felt for the few of those at the Stratford Picturehouse. This is a film for those – including me – worrying about greying hair.

It’s  soft and slow-paced movie with a marshmallow heart that melts as soon as soon as it finishes.

But the intentions are warm and lovely.

If only it was as good as “Mid-August Lunch”!  It isn’t. It has the same strong characters, love of food and drink and the glorious Italian weather and joy of life. Gianni is a very handsome man and an interesting character.

But a bit of his oomph has vanished in the interval between the two movies. This marshmallow – Gianni’s new movie – has a hard nougat at its centre and it hurts my teeth. You can feel the difference  in the trailer for the first movie:

If I were you. I’d get “Pranzo” on DVD and wallow in pretending you are Italian. If you can get both as a cheap DVD  set, buy some Chianti and pasta and make an evening of it.

These films pass the time in a perfectly enjoyable way – the first better than the second – but the slow pace challenges the modern attention span.


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