Under the Tuscan Sun
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir-scr Audrey Wells
with Diane Lane, Sandra Oh, Lindsay Duncan, Raoul Bova, Vincent Riotta, Giulia Steigerwalt, Pawel Szajda, Valentine Pelka, Sasa Vulicevic, Mario Monicelli, David Sutcliffe, Elden Henson, Dan Bucatinsky, Kristoffer Winters, Sean Kaplan, Jeffrey Tambor
release US 26.Sep.03, UK 26.Mar.04
03/US 1h53

Sunny Tuscany: Lane and Bova.

lane oh tambor
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Under the Tuscan Sun While it starts very well indeed as a kind of blushing Shirley Valentine wannabe, the slide into syrup starts early on and only finishes when the entire film is soaked in gooey sentiment. Excellent performances and a witty script help, but not quite enough.

After enduring a particularly brutal and sudden divorce in San Francisco, Frances (Lane) finds herself on a cheerfully gay tour of Italy, which she abandons when she spots a gorgeous old villa for sale and decides to start her life over again in Tuscany. Desperately looking for love again, she builds a sort of family out of her estate agent (Riotta), a trio of Polish builders (Szajda, Pelka, Vulicevic), a mad Englishwoman (Duncan), sundry neighbours and her best friend visiting from the States (Oh). She flirts with lots of handsome Italians, including a supermodel (Bova) she thinks might be The One. And life continues to throw surprises at her until she realises that she's better off just holding on for the ride instead of worrying about what's around the next corner.

This is a nice lesson to learn, but writer-director Wells lays it on so thickly that, after the third conveniently contrived plot turn and the fifth heavy-handed rebirth metaphor, we start to feel queasy. Then she states the message about 10 times in rapid succession just to make sure we got it. It's a surprising misstep for an otherwise thoughtful and amusing script, loosely based on a true story. Lane plays the role exceptionally well--there's not much to it really, but she manages to convey authentic subtext and a nice comic sensibility that keeps us on her side. Meanwhile, the supporting cast do a fine job in their roles, but each person and situation is so loaded with Important Life Lessons that the film sags badly under the pressure to teach us something. But if you take it as just a bit of overly sweet fluff, it's rather enjoyable really.

cert 12 adult themes and situations, language 26.Jan.04

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Under the Tuscan Sun Marc James, Kent: 5/5 "I loved this movie and really didn't expect to. Diane Lane (who was so great in her Oscar nominated performance in Unfaithful) does it again here and fully deserves the Golden Globe nomination she got for Best Actress. The scenery is breathtaking and the supporting characters are amusing. A very good and entertaining film with an excellent performance by Diane Lane." (1.Feb.04)
2004 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall