Under the Tuscan Sun Review
By Shawn McKenzie 09/26/2003
Diane Lane is an actress who has been around for awhile, but it is just recently that she has achieved a more recognizable status. It all started with last year’s Unfaithful, which led to an Oscar nomination for her. Now she is in a movie where she is the main lead, but Under the Tuscan Sun is a chick flick that will leave most men groaning.
San Francisco writer Frances Mayes (Lane) has her life turned upside down when she finds out her husband has been having an affair. She gets a divorce and goes into a depression. Her pregnant lesbian best friend Patti (Sandra Oh) offers Frances a ten-day trip to Tuscany, Italy. It was supposed to be for Patti and her lover, Grace (Kate Walsh), but since she is pregnant, she can’t go, so she figures it would be prefect for Frances. It is a gay bus tour, so no one will hit on Frances, and she’ll be able to relax and get over her ex. She impulsively buys a run-down villa named Bramasole while on the tour, after seeing that it is on sale. She is attracted at first to the realtor who helped her buy Bramasole, Signor Martini (Vincent Riotta), but later falls for a handsome Italian named Marcello (Raoul Bova.) Between falling for these two men, she attempts to fix up the villa. She hires an Italian contractor named Nino (Massimo Sarchielli) and three Polish handymen named Jerzy (Valentine Pelka), Zbignew (Sasa Vulicevic), and Pawel (Pawel Szadja.) Pawel has been having some love life problems of his own. He is in love with Chiara (Giulia Steigerwalt), the daughter of a local landowner, but daddy won’t accept him because he isn’t Italian. Frances feels the need to butt into their affairs, figuring that she could help the young lovers out even if her own love life isn’t doing so well. Throughout the movie, Frances keeps running into a weird woman named Katherine (Lindsay Duncan), who keeps cryptically giving Frances advice on doing stuff in Tuscany. She also keeps seeing an old man (Mario Monicelli) replace some flowers in a vase every morning outside her villa. Later in the movie, Patti comes to live with Frances, because she broke up with Grace (and she’s still pregnant.) Frances will hopefully figure out her love life there…under the Tuscan sun.
Reading this plot summary has to be making the eyes of some men roll. Yes, it is that bad, which is too bad, because I like Lane. She is extremely sexy (even in this movie), and she is a good actress, but I think she should be doing more challenging material. The minor saving grace of the film is Oh. Her comic relief is some of the better parts, but they are only in the beginning and end of the film. Other than that, the only other part that didn’t make me groan was right after she got divorced and she moved into an apartment building filled with divorcees. It was a funny scene, but one of the few that were. Duncan’s character especially annoyed me, even though her character inspired Lane’s character to do the impulsive things in the movie, therefore driving the plot. When you find yourself saying, “Oh geez, here she is again,” it is an irritating character.
I will fully admit that most women might be suckered into the romance of Under the Tuscan Sun and believe that it is a good movie, but it is movies like this that give chick flicks a bad name. What makes things worse for guys is that it is almost a full two hours long, and it feels so much longer. Sure, there is pretty
scenery and one scene of Lane and Bova rolling around half-clothed (nothing quite as extreme as Unfaithful though), but the story is so cheesy that you won’t care about how good it looks. The only thing I could suggest for guys who will be dragged to it by their girlfriends or wives is to make a deal with them. You will go to this love story if they will go to the love story
you really want to see, Underworld (a.k.a. “Romeo and Juliet for vampires and werewolves.”) Deal?
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