SALT OF LIFE, THE
Although he was forced to retire early, Giovanni (Di Gregorio) is kept pretty busy - mostly with family matters. Always the perfect gentleman, Giovanni goes on errands for his wife, walks the dog for his lovely neighbour and is at the beck and call of his demanding elderly mother (Valeria De Franciscis) who lives alone in a plush home with a glamorous carer (Kristina Cepraga). It is his lawyer friend Alfonso (Alfonso Santagata) who suggests to Giovanni he finds a young girl to seduce.
Review by Louise Keller:
Love and beautiful women are the fragrant themes of this charmer of a comedy in which director, writer and star Gianni Di Gregorio explores the reality and the dreams of a man stuck in a rut of everyday life. If you were fortunate enough to have seen Di Gregorio's 2008 film, Mid-August Lunch in which the protagonist finds himself at the mercy of four elderly women during the August holiday, you will understand that here is a director who excels at observing people living out the intricacies of their lives. In a similar vein, The Salt of Life is a film rich with small pleasures and makes pleasurably viewing for anyone who enjoys people watching.
As the film begins, we get a clear picture of what life is like for Giovanni (Di Gregorio). He has signed up with power of attorney for his demanding elderly mother (Valeria De Franciscis), but it is not for the big things in life that she calls him; she rings him when she wants him to adjust the television, or serve lunch and champagne to her poker-playing friends. He also feels a bit of a commodity at home with his lovely wife (Elisabetta Piccolomini) asking him to run errands and his daughter's on-again, off-again boyfriend Michaelangelo (Michelangelo Ciminale) seems to be living with them. Time is a wheel that turns, his lawyer friend Alfonso (Alfonso Santagata) reminds him, as he encourages Giovanni to have an affair with a younger woman, like he has.
Suddenly, all Giovanni sees around him are beautiful women. Things do not turn out like a romantic novel, however. His gorgeous neighbour kisses Giovanni enthusiastically after he walks her St Bernard - but it's on the cheek; his mother's carer dreams about him - as her grandfather; an old girl friend invites him around - but falls asleep. They're identical, Giovanni replies to Alfonso, while lunching with identical twin clients, when asked which one he wants. The scene when he visits an old friend, dressed up and carrying a bunch of flowers is very funny: she is clearly more interested in the long-haired, young piano accompanist who is looking at her longingly. Could it be the elderly man who walks his poodle in the park every day, with whom the uncertain Giovanni has most in common?
Di Gregorio makes his observations with disarming ease, involving us in Giovanni's life - both real and imagined. Performances are vibrantly naturalistic and we understand only too well what Giovanni is going through. The moment he examines the bags under his eyes and less-than-taut jawline in the mirror, before he takes coffee to a pretty girl, tells the whole story about how he is feeling. Thankfully, this is not a film about an older man itching to get laid. There's a contemplative feel about it - a bit like wishful thinking - and we are in on the dream.
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SALT OF LIFE, THE (PG)
Gianni e le donne
CAST: Gianni Di Gregorio, Valeria De Franciscis, Alfonso Santagata, Elisabetta Piccolomini, Valeria Cavalli, Aylin Prandi, Kristina Cepraga
PRODUCER: Angelo Barbagallo, Gaetano Daniele
DIRECTOR: Gianni Di Gregorio
SCRIPT: Gianni Di Gregorio, Valerio Attanasio
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Gian Enrico Bianchi
EDITOR: Marco Spoletini
MUSIC: Ratchev & Carratello
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Susanna Cascella
RUNNING TIME: 89 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Rialto
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 22, 2011