Made in Italy

Aug 12, 2020

If you're going nowhere right now, go virtually to Tuscany by way of this film--great scenery, story not as much. On Amazon Prime

Made in Italy

Grade: B

Director: James D’Arcy (Dunkirk)

Screenplay: D’Arcy

Cast: Liam Neeson (Cold Pursuit), Yolanda Kettle (Marcella)

Runtime: 1h 34m

Rating: R

By: John DeSando

“Your plumbing seems to work. And people like that.” Kate (Lindsay Duncan)

I was eating bucatini with a homemade tomato sauce when real estate agent Kate is assessing the vacant Tuscan villa of Robert (Liam Neeson) and his son, Jack (Michaël Richardson—yes, of that acting family) in the destination comedy, Made in Italy. Just pick up any travelogue on Tuscany, and you’ll see the villa, if not it then a twin you can’t miss on that trip from Florence.

Artist father and museum curator son have issues that first-time writer/director James D’Arcy is careful to reveal in a measured pace that fits the languid world of old Italy. They are obsessed it would seem over the automobile death of wife/mom, and therein lies the weakness of D’Arcy’s promising debut. The maudlin focus on their loss saps energy from the natural tensions that arise when selling a nostalgic, to-die-for estate and a son’s growing romance with local beauty, Ruth (Yolanda Kettle, who favors Emma Stone).

A secondary motif is refurbishing the neglected villa, most importantly painting the central living room. Robert’s struggle with redoing the wall he painted after wife’s death, a tumultuous composite of his despair, holds more interest than most other plot points. But, alas, wife-mom rules the two men’s memories and their actions to the exclusion of true art and emerging love.

Well, my pasta was, like the villa, an old recipe that worked for the shepherds who worked the land before the vineyards took over, and works for me every time.

If you liked Mamma Mia! you’ll like this melodrama on a summer night when Covid has dictated you going nowhere. Even a cliched predicament and lumbering love affair look better with my whole-tomatoes sauce, a nice Chianti, Classico that is, and no Hannibal Lecter. Enjoy the view.

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at