Liam Neeson is a very fine actor, ‘Schlinder’s List’ will forever stay in my mind but ‘Made in Italy’ will not.
He plays artist Robert opposite Jack, (his real life son Micheal Richardson) and there’s tension between the two, reminders of Harry and Charles his princely father, a rift which seems deep and unlikely to be repaired.
However, in fact the basis of the story line reflects life and the tragedy that robbed them both of the woman they loved, Neeson’s wife and Micheal’s mother Natasha Richardson who died two days after a skiing accident in 2009.
In the film the family home in Tuscany has fallen into disrepair, they are joint owners but Jack wants to sell so he can buy the London gallery where he works, the father goes along with the idea so they travel to the deserted building to fix it up and sell. Kate, estate agent (and likely love interest for Robert) (Lindsay Duncan) is doubtful it will sell but as Robert says it has good bones and so it proves to have and as it begins to come to life he falls in love with it all over again.
Both men were bereft following their loved one’s death in a car crash; that sorrow was caught when father and son sat on the floor of the dusty villa and talked and the emotion was genuine as it reflected the tragic death of Natasha 12 years ago. The moment passed too soon and we were back to a rather banal script saved only by the countryside of Tuscany and the sweeping views from the big house.
If Jack is to buy the gallery the dilapidated building must be fixed up and sold within the month so his half of the profits will secure his future in London. Not easy, so help is needed, they make contact with the locals.
There are scenes of fun in the village ristorante and the owner, and possible love interest for Jack, Natalie (Valeria Bilello) introduces them to enthusiastic builders who bring some colour to the proceedings when they come in to make the place habitable and have a confrontation with a live-in weasel. There are some little side plots but nothing to write home about.
There is little to laugh about and one glaring error which disrupts the viewers concentration. Robert and Natalie are driving along in an open car and one shot from above shows them bowling along a country lane, next overhead shot they are on a road with a white line down the centre and the third time we’re back on the country lane. How can such a glaring mistake happen? And who tended the remarkably neat garden over 20 odd years?
Micheal Richardson is a good looking boy and despite being great grandson of actors Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson he has a lot to learn although it can’t have been easy working next to his famous father.
This is a film for a wet Wednesday afternoon with a box of chocolates and a nice cup of tea and then on with the day. The deep meaningful looks and somber music, even the bright sunshine and the cafe culture don’t save this film.
So I watched ‘Made in Italy’ despite being told ‘it’s dire’, a bit strong however this is not a must see movie so I can tell you it all works out in the end!
Review by Anne Hailes