Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Career Launched With "Lunch"

No, you have not stumbled onto a misplaced posting of Ari Seth Cohen's  blog "Advanced Style". This topographical joy of a face belongs to 97 year-old Italian actress Valeria de Franciscis. She plays Gianni Di Gregorio's mother in two wry comedies, "Mid-August Lunch" (2008) (also her first film role) and "The Salt of Life" (2011).

In this day of information overload, she is a bit of a mystery online. Even her Wikipedia page (once translated from the Italian) has little to say other than she was born in Rome of noble stock and her mother died when she was two. She was awarded the "Best Young Actress" prize at the Perugia Film Festival at age 93 for her role in "Mid August Lunch". The rapport between Valeria and Gianni is so natural it would not have surprised me to learn they are actually mother and son.
"Mother and son"
Actress and director/co-star

At first glance you may think the Mother is a character of fun with her Dolly Parton wig and too much makeup. But in both films you see she has an elegance and joie d'vivre that goes beyond half-finishing 100 euro-bottles of Krug champagne with her poker-playing cronies. Early on it's clear Mother has not lost her marbles by a long shot. She knows exactly how to manipulate with charm and has everyone eating out of her hand.

You soon grow to appreciate that keeping up appearances may be the fiber that holds her together and earns the respect of those even at her unwilling beck and call.

Should anyone be interested in a film about the later days of Coco Chanel, may I present Valeria, for your consideration.


  1. What a wonderfully expressive face filled with character!Lovely post!

  2. I love this actress and the movie "Mid-August Lunch", but have somehow missed "The Salt of Life"--now it's in my Netflix 'instant' queue, so I will be seeing it tonight. Thanks for the tip!