Starting your life all over again, when it seems to have come to an abrupt end. That’s the story of the film "Under The Tuscan Sun,’ starring Diane Lane. It’s based on the 1996 best-selling novel of the same name by Frances Mayes. Diane’s character is named Frances, as well-she’s an author and a literature teacher whose marriage is not working out as well as she had thought. When the divorce is finalized, her best friends surprise her by presenting her with a ticket to Tuscany. She resists, then accepts, and the delight of her arrival in that part of Italy is all ours, when we get to view the Tuscan landscape and sky suddenly spread across that huge screen in the theatre. It’s better than any travelogue I’ve ever seen, and more breathtaking than anything in our part of the world.
She falls in love with it so much, she buys a broken down Tuscan villa, learning a thing or two about the unique operations of the real estate market in that part of the world. Before a lire has changed hands, she’s presented with the key. The realtor, reading the surprise on her face, responds: "…well, it’s not a Vespa. What are you gonna do-
There are moments, many moments, when she thinks she’s made a mistake, but the people she meets there prove to be the deciding factor in staying. Especially Katherine (Lindsay Duncan), an aging, though still glamorous actress who shares her memories of working with Fellini in his great films. Il Maestro always told her to "live splendidly and never lose your childish enthusiasm for life."
Senor Martini (Vincent Riotta), her Realtor, also becomes a close friend and confidant, telling her she bought a house for a life she doesn’t have. But she wants a wedding there, and children-a whole family. She should watch what she wishes for.
She certainly meets some romantic prospects along the way, including drop-dead handsome Marcello (played by Raoul Bova, a new face to me, though he’s starred in several recent award winning films in Italy). Will she find love and establish the new life for which she searches? Not telling, but you may want to find out yourself , while watching a thoroughly entertaining movie. Audrey Wells gets a big hand for directing, producing, and doing the screen story and screenplay from Frances Mayes’ book. A superb accomplishment. Additional kudos to Sandra Oh as Frances’ close friend Patti, and to both authors for treating gays in this film no differently than anyone else. It’s taken awhile for Hollywoood to get there. Under the Tuscan Sun is now showing at the showplace East in Bloomingotn, and reviewing the movies for WFIU, I’m Joe Bourne.