CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Old age adventurers in Citizens of the World

11 June, 2020 — By Dan Carrier

CITIZENS OF THE WORLD
Directed by Gianni Di Gregorio
Certificate: 12a
☆☆☆☆

TO be able to live out your later years in carefree splendour: such dreams are the basis of this Italian friendship comedy.

Three wrinkly old boys would like to make their meagre pensions go further, so embark on a quest to find a cosy nook in another country.

But where to go?

This premise provides a basis on which director Gianni Di Gregorio can hang some jokes, and wander off into a bit of philosophical musing, and entertaining back and forths.

Di Gregorio co-authored Naples gang drama Gomorrah and wrote, directed and starred in the 2008 hit Mid August Lunch, which told the story of a relationship between a son, his elderly mother, and another pensioner. It was delicately observed and very funny. He has pulled off the same trick here.

We meet The Professor (Di Gregorio, sporting big, sad, weary baggy eyes to maximum effect) as he sits silently at a café table on a pavement and watches the days slip past. He taught Latin and Greek at a secondary school, and is occasionally recognised by former pupils.

Skint pensioner Giorgetto (Giorgio Colangeli) meets his friend at their regular spot and they set off moaning about their empty wallets and day dreaming of making their pensions stretch. Their wanderlust takes them as far as a bus ride to Roman suburbs, to meet ageing hippie Attillio (Ennio Fantastichini).

Rome provides a down-at-heel backdrop to their meandering journey and mimics the leads insofar as it carries its age magnificently.

This is no Marigold Hotel-style ageing comedy aimed at angsty well-off pensioners; there is an important point running through it.

Abu (Salih Saadin Khalid), a young man from Africa who has fled war and poverty, is the fourth key character: De Gregorio says it was to allow the film “to consider notions of acceptance, tolerance, of welcoming people into our country”.

And Abu’s needs put the pensioners’ woes into a context that provides further moral nourishment for the viewer, with a wonderful off-screen twist, as reported by Amy Fleming in the Guardian.

Actor Khalid had migrated to Italy from Africa. With the wages he earned from the film, he has now been able to travel to Canada to join his family.

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