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:: Under The Tuscan Sun

Adapted from author Frances Mayes’ real-life experiences in Tuscany, this film, which is directed and written for the screen by Audrey Wells, follows Frances’ (Diane Lane) journey in transforming herself from wrongly done by wife to a strong independent woman.

Frances discovers her husband has moved towards another woman and would like alimony from her so he can continue supporting his mistress and their new family. In order to dodge her ex, Frances sells everything she owns whilst her best friend Patti sends her off on a whirlwind tour of Tuscany to lift her spirits. Once there, she becomes drawn to an estate called “Bramasole” (something that yearns for the sun) and, on a whim, buys it. It’s a place that is completely run down and in need of more work than she can manage. Not knowing a scrap of Italian she hires a bunch of eccentric Polish workmen and strikes up a friendship with the three.

Finding herself lonely amidst the craziness of renovations and her love lorn neighbour’s daughter, Frances meets Marcello a suave, gorgeous Italian cafe owner and proves that she still has it. Soon after, off on another encounter with Marcello, Patti arrives on her doorstep pregnant and alone. Asserting her priorities, Frances stays with Patti. After a series of misses with Marcello, Frances is alone again… naturally. However she does learn that all she wished for in life has come true although maybe not necessarily for her.

Diane Lane is gorgeous to watch on screen and miraculously saves the film from being a complete bomb. She has the ability to move an audience and look fantastic on screen. Considering the material she’s given to work with, it’s an amazing feat. Her best friend Patti, played by Sandra Oh, is also a saving grace as the obligatory quirky, witty best friend. Raoul Bova plays the Italian fantasy man, hunk-of-spunk Marcello. That is important to note as he is breathtaking, and my only qualm is that, yes, he plays the stereotypical Italian love god but he doesn’t get nearly enough screen time that he deserves. Raoul is such a very accomplished Italian actor (he was in the famous Octopus TV series) that we’d like to hope and pray that he makes more transitions into English-speaking films.

The cinematography and locations are another saving grace of the film. By setting this paper-thin story in the beautiful scenery of Italy it’s at least another reason why one can tune out to the story and just watch the beautifully shot images of the country and seaside villages unfold. It is shot by Australian Geoffrey Simpson (Picnic at Hanging Rock, Mad Max, Shine) and he captures Italy in all its splendour.

It’s therefore a shame that the story is too fairytale and too contrived, as the events and situations unfold too predictably and fail to even remotely surprise at any given time.