Made in Italy
3 out of 5 stars
If you were to provide a backdrop for the story of the reconciliation of broken family relationships, you could not go wrong with the beautiful hills of Tuscany. Utilising the angst of a grieving family as a story vehicle may seem familiar, but rarely do you get to see an actual father and son in these roles together. Made in Italy provides a unique experience with Liam Neeson (Taken) and his son, Micheál Richardson in the title roles. Two men who are trying to process the loss of their mother and wife while re-introducing themselves to one another. A concept that is true to the lives of these actors who lost the central woman in their lives, Natasha Richardson, in 2009.
Things begin in London at the illustrious art gallery that Jack (Richardson) has run successfully for years for his soon to be ex-wife’s family. The current show that he is overseeing is going well until Ruth (Yolanda Kettle) arrives to inform him that her family is planning to sell the gallery. Besides needing to sign the divorce papers, the young businessman decides he must find the funds to purchase the building. Jack decides to sell the Tuscany estate that his mother left to him and his father after her death. The only challenge is that he needs to convince his dad to part ways with the building that has stood empty for 20 years.
Robert (Neeson) is an artist and a free soul. He is not motivated by money and does not see the necessity of selling off his former Italian home. Still, he sees the value of fulfilling the requests of his son. The two men had never managed to bond after the death of his late wife. This becomes even more challenging when they arrive at the home and see how it had fallen into exceptional disrepair. With the guidance of the local estate manager, Kate (Lindsay Duncan), they work to fix up the dilapidated buildings for sale. A process that takes more work, money and time than either expected to invest. Also, the time together begins to open old wounds between the men and provides a fresh opportunity for love for Jack with the local restaurateur, Natalia (Valeria Bilello). The romance and memories that are hidden in the hills of Tuscany begin to work on Jack and Robert in different ways that lead to surprising decisions.
Every chef knows that the best ragu can have the same ingredients as an ordinary one, but it comes down to the hands that bring them together that can make the difference. Made in Italy has all of the necessary ingredients for a beautiful, heart-warming film. There are beautiful landscapes, historic properties, and familial anguish that festers under the surface of a potential love story. James D’Arcy’s screenplay has all of the right elements. Still, his story struggles to rise above a conventional and endearing cinematic comedy.
Everyone in the cast does their best to deliver the comedy and romance that is needed. Yolanda Kettle is perfect as the hard-hitting estate agent with a hidden heart of gold. At the same time, Valeria Bilello provides a beautiful Italian love interest. The component that fails to live up to its potential is the on-screen relationship between father and his son. There is undeniable family chemistry between these actors. Still, Neeson proves to be too seasoned for his son to perform against. The senior actor seems to be so comfortable and compelling as the grieving husband and father, while Richardson is still trying to get his thespian chops. Even with this tension, the movie does deliver something for audiences to enjoy during these troubling times.
Made in Italy is lovely and engaging, but it never seemed to meet the expectation of what it has to offer. It is a fantastic choice for a romantic evening at the theatre, even though it may not leave much to reminisce about during the coffee afterwards.
REEL DIALOGUE: It may not always be perfect, but a parent’s love is always desired over none at all.
There is nothing quite like the love of a parent or knowing your parents. Even in the worst of experiences, the love, support and hug from your father or mother should have a soothing effect on your very existence.
Made in Italy provides a glimpse into the value of family, but at the heart of the story is the essential need for love and acceptance. This relationship can come in the form of blood relations, a blended family or through adoption and shows that no price can be put on the importance of parents in the life of a child. Have you told your children how much they mean to you today?
- What is sacrificial love? (John 15:13, Ephesians 5:25)
- What should we do in difficult times? (John 16:33, Philippians 4:6-7)
- What does the Bible say about family? (John 15:12-17)