an adorable Italian movie : "Le déjeuner du 15 août" by Gianni di Gregorio

One of the many blogs I read regularly and truly enjoy is the blog of Eve Mongin, a French lawyer based in Perugia (Italy). She writes about aspects of Italian society, and political and cultural issues.
When I read her posts, I often find similarities between Italian and Spanish society. Last week, she mentioned a new Italian movie called Le déjeuner du 15 août (the lunch on august 15th). Directed by Gianni di Gregorio, the movie tells about a 50 year old man, Gianni who lives with his old mother and looks after her. He does the shopping, cleans the apartment, does the cooking and never loses the opportunity to drink a glass of white wine. They both live in a big apartment in the center of Rome but for lack of money, Gianni haven't paid the charges for many years. The managing agent of the building, Alfonso proposes a deal to Gianni : if he takes care of his mother during the week end of august 15th, then he will erase his debt. Gianni accepts but when the day came, Alfonso not only brings his mother but also his aunt. Gianni who doesn’t feel too well, sends for the doctor who also asks him a similar favor in exchange of the consultation fees. So, in the end Gianni has to look after four little old women who fight for the TV programs, are reluctant to follow their strict diet and require Gianni’s constant attention.

The movie was shot in the director's own apartment in the Trastevere district in Rome and is actually inspired from his own life. Gianni di Gregorio had to look after his aged mother and lived with her for some time. In 2000, during the summer, the managing agent of the building who knew Gianni had debts and couldn’t pay the charges proposed him to look after his own mother in exchange of paying the charges. But the director declined the offer and with time passing by, decided to make a movie out of it.
The four charming old ladies are non professional actresses and you can tell they really enjoyed their experience. Gregorio said that he'd been looking in vain for the right actor to act as the protagonist. As he was explaining to the team that he was looking for a mature man, more or less alcoholic and having lived with his mother for many years, everybody’s eyes were on him.

the director and main actor of the movie, Gianni di Gregorio

I only saw a few excerpts of the movie and I hope with a bit of luck the movie will be distributed in Spain.

One of the many similarities between Spanish and Italian society is the importance of the family bonds. It is not rare at all, at least in Andalusia, for a family to live with the grand parents. Even if cohabitation might prove difficult at times, family ties are very strong. When I settled in southern Spain, I found it very touching that young children are often looked after by their grandparents, when parents are at work or busy.

Gianni di Gregorio admits having been shaken by his own experience but he also adds: "I discovered and loved the richness, vitality and strength of the old people universe. But I've also witnessed their solitude and vulnerability in a world which goes too fast without knowing where it’s heading to, forgets about its history and loses the sense of continuity of time, which fears old age and death and doesn’t understand that the value of things is related to the quality of our feelings".

You can see excerpts of Le déjeuner du 15 août here, in the original version. Enjoy !


What an interesting twist that the director/actor refuses the original financial proposition (watch the landlords mother) but turns the offer itself into a financial venture (the movie). Very creative!

It is true about grandparents making wonderful surrogate parents. My grandmothers cared for me while my parents worked. I preferred a grandma to mom any day!
Susana said…
Sounds like a brilliant movie, Lala. You are right about the similarities between the Italians and the Spaniards. Being a Spaniard myself, but having lived abroad for many, many years, I have become a bit of an "anglosaxon" or "northern european" in the sense that I became independent at a very young age (I was lucky my parents were very open and let me go and see the world, starting from China when I was 18!).

Now that we are back in Spain, after so many years away, I must say that the family bonds, although fantastic, are a bit of a "reverse culture shock" for me! I am not used to everyone in the family being so tangled up in each others' lives... my husband finds it very amusing! It is great!

Let's hope this film makes it to Spain...

Happy birthday to your darling, by the way!
Diana said…
This looks like such a cool movie
Sara said…
I hope that movie makes it across the Atlantic and with subtitles! It sounds lovely and funny and just the sort of quirky story I love to see.

The importance of family bonds....yes, they are very important and here in the USA they are practically nonexistent in the general culture. There are exceptions of course, but I wish we valued family ties more here. It's very sad. The generations do not live together but they are good for each other, being at the various stages of life and each has something to teach the other. It can be difficult with all those personalities under one roof, but it an be a very good thing too.
Anonymous said…
It's sounds quite interesting. If I'll find this film I'll see it for sure.
Oh, it's such a pity that Eve Mongin doesn't write in english. I learnt french at school but I don't remember anything now :/ And google language tool isn't perfect yet :), so... it's a pity. That's good You mentioned about this film.
I love foreign films.
This is the kind of film I would watch on a Friday night with the perfect bottle of Chianti, of course! :-)

You make life sound beautiful!
And perhaps, it is...
Linda Sue said…
PERFECT! With my rudimentary French and Italian I got lost in words and had to listen several times. Am looking forward to this film, with english subtitles...My language skills are so minimal.I am hoping that my son will see this film as insure his care for me and my friends as we kiss age 90.( run away, my child, run away!)
Carla said…
sounds like a great movie, I can't wait to see it. So inspiring films that mirror real life, especially that of the director. Thanks for info. Carla
It sounds like a good movie. Will check it out, thanks for the recommendation.

Greetings from London.
Scarlet said…
I've loading up on foreign films lately and after your review and learning more about the director/actor, I'm checking this one out! Thanks for the preview.
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