Saturday, August 7, 2010
Mid-August Lunch - **
Mid-August Lunch, an Italian film about an obscure holiday, begins charmingly enough: Gianni is living with his overbearing mother, struggling to pay the bills, when he agrees to babysit his friend's mother for the weekend in exchange for a little debt forgiveness. The scene in which this is negotiated hits a nice subtly comic rhythm, as both push impositions on each other while still trying to keep up the pretense of a harmless conversation between old pals, and when this friend shows up with his mother and an aunt who was never part of the deal, it gives their whole exchange a nice punchline. From there the film slowly devolves into a wash of boring conversations between undeveloped characters. More women are added to the house before the night is out, and they nag at each other and at Gianni while he plays host. This could have been fun, but none of these characters has any distinct personality to form any kind of witty exchange. It's kind of depressing when you reach a point in a film when you realize that it's not going anywhere... and the only thing worse than that realization is sitting through the rest of the film after that, especially when it consists solely of a group of people celebrating a holiday you've never heard of.