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  • Colin Fraser


TWO STARS Father and son bond together when restoring the dilapidated family villa in Tuscany.


Starring Micheál Richardson, Liam Neeson

MADE IN ITALY is an all-too-familiar experience in which Brits-abroad face their demons while basking in the Tuscan sun. The actors are impossibly attractive, the setting is eye-waveringly beautiful, the food is Italian and the lighting is gorgeous. What sets this apart is just how cliché-ridden it all is, even by the rather low standards of the genre.

There’s a belief that first-time directors shouldn’t work their own script and MADE IN ITALY doesn’t change that line of thought. Actor James D’Arcy (DUNKIRK) turns writer/director in this disappointingly mild account of a young gallery director (Micheál Richardson) who needs cash quick. He convinces his distant father (Liam Neeson) to sell the family villa in Italy which has lain dormant since the death of his mother nearly twenty years ago. But before the can sell, they have to fix it up. Enter the reliable Lindsay Duncan as an ex-pat real estate agent, and beautiful, energetic Natalia who runs a restaurant in the village. You’ll never guess what happens next.

Actually, you will, which is the first of D’Arcy’s many disappointments. Yet inevitability isn’t the worst of his misdemeanours, the crime is in not fulfilling the early promise that somehow his story might be different. There’s a hint of it in the emotional baggage carried by father and son, conversations not had, stories not shared. Hence the brittle nature of their relationship which we hope will bring gravitas to the otherwise airy goings on. All too soon the film falls back on tropes, composites and clichés while hoping to distract us the ordinariness with the extraordinary postcard setting.

It didn’t work for MAMA MIA and it doesn’t work here.

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