Under the Tuscan Sun

Movie Information

In Brief: Pleasant, if not remarkable, mid-life romantic comedy with Diane Lane as a divorcee who throws caution to the winds and buys an Italian villa in need of a lot of work in order to make a stab at a new life.
Genre: Comedy
Director: Audrey Wells
Starring: Diane Lane, Raoul Bova, Sandra Oh, Vincent Riotta, Dan Bucatinsky
Rated: PG-13

When Under the Tuscan Sun (a film for which “once” is the maximum number of permissable viewings) came out in 2003, I called it “an agreeable soufflé of a movie with Diane Lane (who had been suddenly boosted to stardom by the fairly awful Unfaithful).” That sounds about right. I further wrote: “There’s a great deal of apparent reverence surrounding writer/director Audrey Wells that I don’t quite understand (surely, it can’t be based on her scripts for George of the Jungle and Disney’s The Kid), but she certainly did a credible job in scripting Tuscan Sun. And she certainly has a wonderful instrument in Diane Lane, not to mention a fine supporting cast, especially Lindsay Duncan (Mansfield Park) as an outrageous English expatriate living in the village where Lane’s character buys her “dream” villa. The script is very shrewdly contrived (in a good sense) to bring Lane’s Frances Mayes (based on the real Frances Mayes, who wrote the source book) to her new chance at life in Italy. It all starts when book reviewer Frances meets someone whose work she once trashed (the fear of every critic). The fellow takes delight in hinting that all is not well between Frances and her husband, and Frances soon learns the whole truth: Her husband has taken up with another woman and not only wants a divorce, but alimony.” (For the record, I still don’t get the fuss over Wells.) Full review is here: http://www.mountainx.com/movies/review/undertuscansun.php

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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