Mid-August Lunch

Rated 4.0

Making his directorial debut at age 60, veteran screenwriter Gianni Di Gregorio also stars as a weary post-middle-aged man who, on Italy’s biggest summer holiday, finds himself stuck in Rome with a condo full of old ladies—including, most notably, his own mother (Valeria De Franciscis). And while it’s hard not to worry that Hollywood soon will pervert this concept into some cloying, shudder-worthy Golden Girls update, it is also a great relief in the meantime to enjoy its excellent realization as a warm and wistful Italian ensemble comedy. Given this movie’s wry, humane attitude toward the crucible of close quarters, you might never know Di Gregorio also co-wrote the pitiless gangster thriller Gomorra. But one through line is his evident faith in the authenticity of understatement. It is faith rewarded, and casting nonactors Marina Cacciotti, Maria Cali and Grazia Cesarini Sforza as the variously demanding houseguests seems like a stroke of genius.