"The Salt of Life" Follows a Man's Late-Life Quest for Physical Love
As in his directorial debut, Mid-August Lunch, Gianni Di Gregorio stars in this quiet comedy, this time as Giovanni, a man in his early 60s forcibly retired nearly a decade ago and whose only employment today is playing gray-haired errand boy to the still-active women who surround him. Giovanni lives in Rome with a daughter and wife, although the relationship has evidently cooled to mutual indifference. Aside from his mother (Valeria de Franciscis), who hectors Giovanni with calls for assistance, no one seems to expect much more from him. Giovanni, in turn, doesn't seem to expect much of life, until his contemporary, lone friend, the rubicund lawyer Alfonso, stokes Giovanni's desire to take a last crack at physical love, though when they step out together, Giovanni notices they don't make much of an impact. Di Gregorio's performance sets the tone of dim hope and quiet forbearance, telling the story through reactions: an ever-accommodating smile that shades into a wince; sparkling, heavy-lidded eyes betrayed by vexed brows.
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