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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Under The Tuscan Sun

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Judy Thorburn

Under The Tuscan Sun

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Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

“UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN” SHINES WITH BEAUTY AND WARMTH

Imagine being able to drop everything and take off for a European vacation. Let’s go a step further. While you are on that wonderful getaway, you make a spur of the moment decision to buy a villa overlooking the rolling hills of an Italian countryside. It must be nice. How many people do you know that can afford to do that?

But, that’s exactly what Diane Lane does in Under The Tuscan Sun, a movie very loosely based on Frances Mayes’s 1996 best selling memoir that details her restoration of an old, but charming, Villa in Italy.

Straight from her Academy award nominated performance in Unfaithful, this time Diane is the other side of the coin, a surprised wife who gets dumped by her unfaithful, cheating husband.  In this movie version of the book Frances, (who in real life was single, with a significant other) is portrayed as a San Francisco book reviewer/writer, whose world is turned upside down when she finds herself newly single and having to give up her beautiful home as part of the divorce agreement.  Forced to move into a short-term apartment building occupied by other divorced writers, doctors and lawyers, her best friend, gay and expecting Patti (Sandra Oh) comes up with a plan.  Since pregnancy is keeping her close to home and unable to travel far, Patti and her partner insist that Frances take Patti’s place on a scenic bus tour vacation of fabulous Italy, a trip that unknowing to Frances, will change her life forever.

That starts when Frances makes an impulsive bid on a rundown three hundred year old villa in Corona. The elderly, superstitious owner, unsure of the sale, accepts the offer when she sees bird droppings on Frances’s head as a sign from God. However, the contessa is just one of the many new characters in France’s journey of self-discovery. As Frances gets accustomed to her new newly adopted home, the eccentric and different personalities, lush landscaping, and change in lifestyle have an unexpected impact on her life.  Real estate agent Senor Martini (Vincent Riotta) becomes a close friend and compassionate confidant who carries a torch for Frances, but keeps it under control as a faithful husband and father. She also makes friends with Katherine (Lindsay Duncan), a flamboyant fifty-ish, British expatriate who enjoys living a Fellini-esque, free spirit, Dolce Vita lifestyle. Her advise to Frances is “never lose your childish enthusiasm, and things will come your way”. However, because the house is dilapidated and in need if major renovation, enter a crew of Polish immigrants, hired to do the job.  The youngest, Pawel (Pawel Szadja) is the subject of a subplot that entails his love for a young Italian beauty (Giulia Steigerwalt), against her father’s disapproval. And speaking of love, and this IS romantic Italy, it doesn’t take too long before Frances literally bumps into an Italian hunk, named Marcello (gorgeous, Raoul Bava, Italy’s reigning screen heartthrob), during a trek into the city, who becomes her lover, but just temporarily.

Under the Tuscan Sun is a beautiful movie, not only for all the wonderful performances, but also as a travelogue with the excellent photography showcasing the lush and fabulous cinematic vistas of the Tuscan landscapes.  If this doesn’t work as a travel agent’s dream comes true, nothing will. Picture postcard perfect, it created a need for me to make this a must take vacation in the (hopefully) not too distant future.  As tempting the visuals may be, the story is also a delight, holding its own without the usual clichés.  Now, that is rare, especially since this is an outing filled with such an array of characters. Whimsical, amusing, touching and smart is just a few words to describe this film. But, who knows if it would be as good without the very credible Diane Lane, who is finally getting the accolade she deserves.  Add her to the short list of great actresses who have the uncanny ability to evoke all sorts of emotions using immensely expressive facial expressions in such a believable, honest way.

More than about lifestyle change, Under the Tuscan Sun, delves into deeper meanings such as the idea of what makes a family and how things come in their own time, when you least expect it.  Just build the foundation and it will come in its own accord.  A great message delivered without flaws.  Want a nice getaway that will take you to a beautiful place?  Make “Under The Tuscan Sun” your next movie destination…at least until you can afford the real thing, on a trip to Italy.