I remember watching a documentary about the angst of middle-aged men. One guy in his late 50s laments the fact that he can’t get the attention of anyone at the bars or clubs he frequents, despite all the time he continues to put into maintaining his own visage, tanning, working out, waxing, the works.
What this guy never admitted — nor did the filmmakers beg the question, unfortunately — was that what he was really lamenting was the fact that he couldn’t get the attention of the twenty- or thirty-somethings in the bars and clubs. Odds are there were probably plenty from the over-the-hill set that would’ve been happy to have their drink bought by him.
This slice of life kept popping into my head as I watched writer-director-headliner Gianni Di Gregorio’s Italian farce-without-jokes The Salt of Life. The “salt” of the title might as well be saltpeter, since life itself keeps telling Giovanni (played, as the near-miss character name implies, by Di Gregorio himself) that it doesn’t think he’s ready for this jelly.
Giovanni is a 60-year-old married man whose wife, mother and daughter all rotate around him like taunting satellites, seemingly forming a barrier around his thwarted sex life, keeping the scores of nubile younger women in town away from him. Of course, since he doesn’t really seem to take any action in his own interest, it’s pretty clear the problem is his own. But don’t tell him that.
Befitting a movie about a guy who wishes for younger, more vivacious days, Di Gregorio sometimes lays on the old school Italian flick schtick rather thick. Chokingly so, actually. But good thing he did, because The Salt of Life would’ve been a pretty depressing slog otherwise.
The Salt of Life plays in Theater 1 at 4 p.m.
Other Highlights: Sunday, April 15
Michael. Michael would be perfect, but not for the fact that he’s holding a 10-year-old boy in his basement. Don’t expect musical numbers. (Theater 2; 6:45 p.m.)
The Castle. If you are one of the millions who grumble about airport security, consider seeing the story from the other side in this documentary. (Theater 5; 7 p.m.)
Elena. Director Andrei Zvyagintsev is one of the more exciting directors on the festival circuit these days. The twisty, vengeful plot of Elena makes this one a must-see. (Theater 2; 8:45 p.m.)
For more of the WCCO Movie Blog’s coverage on the MSPIFF, click here.