“Under the Tuscan Sun” is a slightly
better-than-average riff on the romantic comedy genre. It’s
sort of romantic and not very funny, but somehow manages to pull
itself together to be a decent movie.

Laura Wong
Unlike Julia Roberts, I shave my pits. (Courtesy of Buena Vista)

Within the first 10 minutes, Frances Mayes (Diane Lane,
“Unfaithful”) goes from being a classy and happily
married book-reviewer to the saddest divorcée you’ll
ever meet. Frances looks like death warmed over, the epitome of a
rough breakup, and moves into a dreary apartment building infested
with people sharing her plight. Patty (Sandra Oh, TV’s
“Arli$$”), Frances’s pregnant lesbian best
friend, is concerned and she sends Frances in her place on the
“Gay and Away” bus tour of Tuscany.

Once there, on the advice of a slightly crazy blonde woman,
Frances buys a broken down villa and settles down to start a new
life. She hires a Polish remodeling crew, starts learning the
language and how to pick olives, but is still missing something.
Eventually, she winds up falling for Marcello (Raoul Bova), a
native complete with his very own tasteful white leisure suit, and
gets back in action. The rest of the film centers on
Frances’s path to the almighty true love and the rocky
patches along the way.

The movie is visually stunning and the DVD is set in Dolby
Digital Sound. The visuals are exquisite, complete with sunflower
fields, lush hills and mouthwatering bowls of pasta. The only real
problem with the movie is the star; Lane seems to be miscast. The
supporting characters are funny, the plot’s mediocre-but none
of that matters when Frances continues to look like a sad, decrepit
woman throughout the film. She’s too serious for a light
romantic comedy, and that seems to bring the movie’s spirit
down. The supporting cast is very good, but the setting is more
compelling then the story.

The disc’s extras include a whopping three deleted scenes,
an audio commentary by director Audrey Wells and a
making-of-featurette. This behind-the-scenes look, entitled
“Tuscany 101,” doesn’t reveal much. In a stunning
revelation, we learn the Polish contractor named Pawel is really an
actor named Pawel and that Italy is a pretty country. The director,
producer, Lane and that guy named Pawel are all showcased in the
featurette. The extras aren’t too great, but then again,
neither is the movie.


Movie: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Picture/Sound: 4 out of 5 stars

Features: 2 out of 5 stars

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