The Salt of Life 

What a drag it is getting old. Mick Jagger surely didn’t realize his own prescience when he wrote those words back in his 20s. In The Salt of Life, aging is certainly a drag for Gianni, a 60-year-old Italian forced into early retirement and who now spends his days walking his dog and watching helplessly as his high-living mother fritters away his modest pension.

And everywhere Gianni looks on the streets of Rome are women — young, gloriously beautiful and buxom — all of whom view him as a kindly grandfather. Their dismissals are painful reminders of his waning vitality and self-respect.

Such is the making of an amusing, if slight, Italian-language comedy screening Friday through Sunday at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.

Gianni Di Gregorio, who directed and co-wrote the picture, stars as the feckless hero, and he is an affecting presence, shuttling between fixing the TV for his ancient mother (Valeria De Franciscis Bendoni) and running errands for a wife with whom he’s no longer intimate. Gianni’s lecherous pal (Alfonso Santagata) advises getting a mistress, but that’s not so easy to secure, even if it seems that every other geezer in Rome is getting laid.

And so it goes. Aside from a resonant premise and eagerness to examine the mature male psyche, not much actually happens. Di Gregorio is content to let things meander along with Gianni. The pushy musical score and its forcible whimsy can’t quite propel the story forward. Like Gianni himself, Salt of Life is pleasant, but passive.

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Phil Bacharach

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