It is a paradox that director/lead Gianni di Gregorio has, with "Mid-August Lunch" and this, "The Salt of Life", found success and acclaim playing a character called Gianni in his sixties for whom life appears to be stagnating or slipping by. "The Salt of Life" has many of the characteristics which made "Mid-August lunch" such a joy - the honesty, warmth, wonderful acting and resonance for many of us. However it is not quite as endearing and lacks one crucial aspect - "Mid-August Lunch" was a loving paean to Rome in all its glory and sun-baked beaut while here the setting of the Roman rione (or district) of Trastevere is less prominent and less celebrated and simply where the characters live.
Despite the similarity of the names of the characters of Gianni and his mother Valeria, the names are everyman names - here Gianni's mother lives in much greater splendour and Gianni is married (just about) and has a daughter. Di Gregorio's hangdog expression is still a delight and the projection for his consistent "virtues and flaws" as an ex says. While the film is quietly political about the situation for young people in Italy today, the real focus is on Gianni and his relationship with his mother, other females and, although less important, his wife and daughter. Gianni is the man for whom no one has a bad word and we will him success and happiness.
Overall, "The Salt of Life" is even more wistful than "Mid August Lunch" and its humour less vivid. While it did not leave as marked an impression as its predecessor, I recommend it strongly.