Director: Audrey Wells
Writer(s): Frances Mayes (Book), Audrey Wells (Screenplay)
Category: Romantic Comedy
Tagline: Life offers you a thousand chances… all you have to do is take one.
Plot: Loosely based on Frances Mayes’s best-selling memoir of the same title, Diane Lane stars as Frances, a newly divorced American lawyer who heads for the Italian region of Tuscany to make limonita out of life’s lemons. Having just quit her high-pressure job and ended her heartbreaking marriage, she buys a decrepit-but-charming house in Cortona on impulse, rebuilding it piece by piece — and herself along with it.
Review: If you love Italy then go see this movie. If you like real and intelligent characters then go see this movie. If you hate romantic comedies then go see this movie.
I am not a huge fan of the romantic comedy genre. More often than not, a romantic comedy is nothing more than a few good looking people thrown together and saddled with a lousy script. That’s not to say that there aren’t notable exceptions, but for the most part they suck. Based on the previews for this movie, I didn’t have high hopes, however I did receive a free pass to watch a sneak preview for the movie, so how could I say no? 🙂
Having not read the book, I really didn’t know what to expect. Let me tell you it was a pleasant surprise. For starters, Diane Lane was the perfect choice for the lead character Frances Mayes. She brings a natural reality to the character, instead of the saccharin sweet typically found in a romantic comedy. Diane instantly makes you feel like you know this woman. She’s your neighbor, or someone you work with. In the scene after she learns of her husband’s infidelities, she looks horrible – exactly like you’d expect like a woman would look after traumatic news. Of course Diane Lane is a very beautiful woman and as the movie progresses that becomes more and more apparent. Luckily Diane is more than just a pretty face and her performance is stellar. The movie as a whole is understated, letting things play out instead of spelling everything out and Diane provides a wonderful tapestry for you to see what is happening to her. Her reactions tell you more than pithy dialog ever could and as a result you end up taking the journey with her.
As much as I loved Diane Lane in this movie, she is surrounded by an incredible supporting cast. Sandra Oh, as the best friend, delivers an authentic performance. Instead of the typical “funny sidekick” so often played by those in the role of best friend, she’s down to earth and real. Raoul Bova plays the Italian lover and should make most women weak in the knees, but I found Vincent Riotta, the real estate agent, to be a much richer character. And speaking of rich characters, Lindsay Duncan plays a wonderful eccentric as Katherine who almost serves as a fairy godmother.
Although the acting is surpurb, what brings it all together are the talents of Audrey Wells who serves as the screenplay writer, director and producer. Most of Audrey’s background has been in writing. This is only her second film as a director, yet you wouldn’t know it by watching the film. Clearly Ms. Wells has a love of Italy and a love of the novel and all of that shows on the screen. She filmed in the cities that are represented and she hired actors that are the nationality in which they play and the age in which they should be. The entire films shines with authenticity and coupled with wonderful performances and directing, Audrey has redefined the romantic comedy.
This movie was refreshing, witty, poetic, dramatic and rich with characters that you not only like, but identify with. It was such a breath of fresh air that I’m ready to see it again and again. This film is definitely going into my DVD collection.
My Rating: (4 out of 5 stars)
My IMDB Review: [link]
Having read and enjoyed the book, I think I’ll skip it. The plot as described bears very little resemblence to the book.
Although that’s true, I’ve heard from those who have read the book and seen the movie that they both stand on their own. I would just approach it as an independant story.