Audrey Wells, the director of the lackluster GUINEVERE, underwhelms us again
with UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN. Although it starts off promisingly and works
beautifully as a travelogue, the movie goes downhill rapidly after its first
act. Easily the best part of the production is the warm and inviting
performance by Diane Lane as San Francisco writer Frances Mayes.
Mayes is a newly divorced woman whose husband was unfaithful -- ironic given
that Lane's recent Oscar nomination was for UNFAITHFUL in which she played the
unfaithful spouse. Circumstances cause the heterosexual Mayes to end up on a
gay tour of Tuscany, where she sees and buys, on the spot, a crumbling villa.
Utilizing Polish immigrant workers, she remodels it, fixing the holes in the
ceiling and knocking out walls. Along the way, she fixes -- or tries to fix --
the hole in her heart.
The script by Wells has Mayes constantly reflecting on her life in voice-over.
"I like to hang out at a little bar I have conveniently located in my
backyard," she muses, for example. The cloyingly cute script also has
characters, such as her friend Se¤or Martini (Vincenzo Ricotta), say things
like, "Please Se¤ora, if you continue being so sad, I'll be forced to make love
to you, and I've never been unfaithful to my wife."
Not much happens in the story until -- surprise! -- Mayes meets an incredibly
handsome young hunk named Marcello (Raoul Bova), who, of course, says sweet
nothings to her. The characters in this PG-13 movie make love but always with
their underwear on. It's a neat trick.
In addition to the magnificent scenery, there are a few marvelous little
scenes. One is a traditional Tuscan flag ceremony, and another concerns a
washing machine fried by lightning. One suspects that, with a full half hour
trimmed, UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN could be a delightful little trifle, but, as
written, there isn't enough in it to warrant a normal length motion picture.
UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN runs 1:50. The film is rated PG-13 for "sexual content
and language" and would be acceptable for kids around 12 and up.
Copyright © 2003 Steve Rhodes