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Under The Tuscan Sun (2003)
Tuesday, February 3, 2004
Sexual content and language
Diane Lane, Raoul Bova, Sandra Oh, Lindsay Duncan, Pawel Szadja, Vincenzo Ricotta, Dan Bucatinsky
Frances Mayes, Audrey Wells
This film follows San Francisco writer Frances Mayes to Italy as a good friend offers her a special gift -- 10 days in Tuscany. Once there, she is captivated by its beauty and warmth, and impulsively buys an aging, but very charming, villa. Fully embracing new friends and local color, she finds herself immersed in a life-changing adventure filled with enough unexpected surprises, laughter, friendship, and romance to restore her new home -- and her belief in second chances.
Under The Tuscan Sun (2003) | Review
Nothing New "Under The Sun"
The plot (though just summed up) is pretty simple: Mayes' husband takes the house, which forces her to move into a depressing apartment complex for recent (and not-so-recent) divorcees. When her pregnant friend, Patti (Sandra Oh) convinces her to take the place of her and her partner on a Gay and Away tour of Europe, Frances finally excepts and finds herself in love with the Tuscan countryside. Impulsiveness and a need for change get the best of her, and she finds herself buying a dilapidated old villa called Bramasole, and hiring a ragtag band of Polish workers to help fix it up. All this leaves the viewer and Frances' friends wondering when she's going to meet "him."
Unfortunately for the film, it spends too much of the time focusing on Frances waiting to be complete by finding the new replacement guy to take her mind off the last one. I did like the overall message that she needed to actually get her priorities in line with herself and stop worrying about someone else completing her before she can be happy, but wish it didn't take almost two hours to get there. The movie drags quite a bit, and doesn't seem to want to pick whether it's a soul-searching drama or sappy rom-com, so neither camp will be completely satiated.
It does also bring up some great messages about the pain of a broken marriage, and being patient in life for the things God may have for you. Frances says of divorce that it "should kill you, but doesn't," and that it's amazing that a "bullet in the heart" doesn't put you out of your misery. On patience and faith, she learns how the tunnel was built through the Alps before a train could even make the journey through it, and that sometimes you search so hard for something (ladybugs/love) that when you finally stop trying and give up control, that thing may come to you instead.
Overall, it turns out a shade better than I was expecting, and trial again leads to perspective. It takes quite a bit of time to get there, but it's (mostly) worth the investment. Other minor side plots involve a broken relationship between pregnant Patti and her partner, and a forbidden romance between a young Italian girl and a penniless Polish worker, but they take a far back seat.
The Blu-ray release has very sparse offerings when it comes to bonus features, and I'm pretty sure they are identical to the ones that were included on the DVD release. Three deleted scenes and a director commentary round out the usual fare, and a barely nine minute featurette entitled "Tuscany 101" shows a look at the making of the movie, some behind the scenes stuff with the director, and the author's thoughts on converting her memoirs to the big screen.
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