Under the Tuscan Sun
What's in a title? The TV Guide description of this film states: "A woman moves to Italy and befriends a married man". That is a very poor observation on this film and in fact the only befriending to occur has no marriage or infidelity!
This is probably the finest movie I have seen in many years. It is a genuine presentation that delivers the goods on many levels. Heartfelt direction by Audrey Wells and poignant, well crafted acting from Diane Lane combine with an excellent script to bring this charming and uplifting movie to the screen.
Diane Lane is absolutely stunning and engaging in every way.
Filmed on location in San Francisco and in Italy, the story takes us into the life of under appreciated book reviewer Frances Mayes. Frances (played by Lane) discovers that her husband has been having an affair. After the divorce she moves into temporary housing peopled with other victims of failed relationships. One night at dinner with friends (a lesbian couple), Patti (Sandra Oh) announces that they are about to become parents. The couple sacrifice their plans to embark upon a gay tour of Tuscany and convert the tickets into one first class passage for Frances. Somewhat grudgingly, off she goes to Italy and so begins the real joy of this endearing film.
Frances becomes smitten with the people and character of Tuscany. In one impulsive motion she exits the tour bus and finds herself in the middle of a dilapidated estate known as 'Bramasole'. It happens to be for sale. With the proceeds of her divorce she purchases the building and begins the long journey of repairing not only the structure, but the shreds of her life as it has become. Eventually a very pregnant 'Patti' arrives only to announce that her lover has deserted her in fear of parenthood.
There are a number of wonderful scenes with animals (owls, cats, snakes, scorpions etc.) as Frances adjusts to a newly foreign existence. Polish contractors are hired to do the construction (adding to the films multi-ethnic irony) though most of the cast are current Italian screen stars. There are some few references to Fellini and some timeless observations on life and love. Of course no work to consider Italy is without fabulous food and wine.
It is a simple premise with gorgeous location photography and a winning cast. The film has marvelous watch-ability and I personally have viewed it a dozen or more times. I have even purchased several copies as gifts.