The same set of adjectives that were used to describe Mid-August Lunch, Gianni Di Gregorio's belated 2008 directorial debut — charming, breezy, warm, low-key — could be recycled to describe his follow-up.
The Salt of Life doesn't mess with the elements that endeared Di Gregorio to audiences the first time around. He again stars as a character who shares his own name, employing his perennially hangdog features to portray a hapless man who's been all but discarded by everyone around him. That includes his demanding mother, played again by the baroquely aged Valeria De Franciscis; his employers, who forced him into early retirement; and his wife, who treats him like an irresponsible child and errand boy. Gianni's every scheme is shrugged into minor failure, whether financial or, more often, romantic. Determined not to end up among the gaggle of old men who spend their days in idle chit-chat outside of a corner store, Gianni becomes determined to spark up a romance with any one of the nubile young women he seems to be surrounded by.
Having directed his first film when he was just shy of 60 years old, Di Gregorio perhaps inevitably is focused on the drudgery of aging, the way in which men over a certain age are suddenly viewed as harmless, desexualized creatures — if they're viewed at all. As his half-hearted flirtations falter one after another, Gianni increasingly sees himself reflected in all the other "old men with dogs" whose paths he crosses during his daily walks, doomed to a fate of doddering invisibility.