Made in Italy

made_in_italySTARS3Made in Italy feels like it was inspired by a dare.  What exactly motivated British actor James D’Arcy (Dunkirk, Avengers: Endgame) to make his writing and directing debut?  In my imaginary scenario, a friend declares “Italy is indeed a beautiful country but you could never make a movie that merely coasts on its scenery.”  “I bet I can,” Darcy counters to which his buddy reacts, “I dare you.”  “Challenge accepted,” D’Arcy replied with a smile.

This is all conjecture obviously.  It’s just that the raison d’etre for this film is so minor that it prods me to fabricate reasons as to why it exists.  The barely-there story concerns the difficult relationship between Robert, a bohemian artist, and his adult son Jack, who runs a London art gallery.  Jack wants to buy his soon to be ex-wife out of the business.  First, he must persuade his father to sell their Tuscan villa which is in desperate need of repair.  In Italy, a prickly British realtor played by Lindsay Duncan turns up to assist them.  Her deadpan expressions are a delight.  The focus, however, is on father and son.  They have been emotionally estranged since the death of Jack’s mother/Robert’s wife in a car collision many years ago.  It’s worth noting that Liam Neeson and his real-life son, Micheál Richardson play the central duo and their relationship has direct parallels to real life.  Neeson’s wife and Richardson’s mother Natasha Richardson tragically passed away in 2009 from a skiing accident.

I enjoyed the landscapes.  The gorgeous panoramas are breathtaking.  The production allows the viewer to vicariously travel to Italy at a time when one cannot.  The contribution of cinematographer Mike Eley is even more vital than the direction.  The problem is that the wispy tale is so slight.  The screenplay lays the groundwork for something more — perhaps an emotional catharsis — that never arrives.  After Taken in 2009, Liam Neeson’s career transformed him into an action hero star for a decade.  I don’t associate him with slow, quiet dramas these days.  Made in Italy is a chronicle about coming to terms with emotions for events that happened in the past.  There’s a generic romantic subplot too, involving pretty restaurant owner Natalia (Valeria Bilello).  Stuff happens, but there is no narrative thrust.  Simply a leisurely paced stroll through exquisite vistas while actors nosh on pasta.


6 Responses to “Made in Italy”

  1. “The production allows the viewer to vicariously travel to Italy at a time when one cannot.”

    — Made in Italy/The Trip to Italy, these kinds of movies have a heightened purpose now that we are in a pandemic. It’s just yet another example of how totally different life is now. In any other circumstance, I’d say this movie seems weak. But a travelogue like this almost . . . crucial right now. At least for some people.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah it certainly seems more vital in 2020 than in any other year. Despite the mixed to negative response from critics, it’s not bad. Depending on your mood, this may hold significant delights for some viewers.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This could’ve and should’ve been better. It was a gorgeous location. Wish I knew this was Liams son. I would’ve been more involved, some how. Still, it was good enough for 3 1/2 stars


  3. I miss Italy so much. hope everything come back to normal


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