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Under The Tuscan Sun

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Under The Tuscan Sun

Starring: Diane Lane, Raoul Bova
Director: Audrey Wells
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 113 Minutes
Release Date: September 2003
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance

*Also starring: Sandra Oh, Vincent Riotta, Dan Bucatinsky, Lindsay Duncan, Ralph Palka, Kristoffer Ryan Winters

Review by Steve Rhodes
2 stars out of 4

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

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