Spice to Life
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
While I like to describe myself as semi-retired, it’s hard to live up to that claim. Writing film reviews, consulting with publishing clients, producing films, I seem to be busier than when I had a real job.
Many retiree friends have trouble adjusting.
That’s the theme of “The Salt of Life” (or “Gianni e le donne”), the follow-up film to Gianni Di Gregorio’s “Mid-August Lunch.” This salty look at early retirement is currently on view at the Tropic Cinema on Eaton Street.
Typically, the Italian filmmaker stars in his own story about a man who “might as well be invisible” after retiring in middle age. His wife ignores him, his mother is running out of control, and his daughter (played by Di Gregorio’s own daughter Teresa) has an irritating slacker boyfriend. Our randy retiree would like to be fawned over by younger women, but his attractive neighbor sees him merely as a dog walker.
“I just happened to notice that at a certain point, around the age of sixty, women just don’t look at you in the same way any more, which causes panic,” Di Gregorio says with a grin. “I think with this film my tendency was to make a joke of it.”
The cobblestone streets of Trastevere make a warm and wonderful backdrop. Di Gregorio grew up in Rome where he formed a love affair with the city. And with movies.
As a youngster, he spent his mornings at school and his afternoons in local movie houses, sometimes watching as many as three films a day.
Later on, while working in the theater, he saw Martin Scorsese’s “Mean Streets,” a film that made such an impression on him that he quit his job and found work as an assistant director on a film. 2010’s “Mid-August Lunch” was his own directorial debut.
As for the autobiographical nature of Di Gregorio’s films, he shrugs at the foibles of mid-life. “I’m not saying, by the way, that in a year or two I won’t buy a motor scooter and start dying my hair and running around again. But for now I hope I’ve exorcized it.”