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Written and directed by James D’Arcy, Made in Italy is a predictable, but warm and humourous romantic comedy. Michael Richardson is Jack, a London gallery owner who suddenly finds he’s going to be out of work when the owners and family of his estranged wife decide they want to sell. His only hope is to buy it himself and to do that he needs to raise money by agreeing with his father and artist Robert (Richardson’s real life father Liam Neeson), to sell a family home in Tuscany. However, the home has been left abandoned for 20 years, since the death of Jack’s mother, Robert’s wife. They travel to Tuscany to freshen the place up, but it needs much more than an a lick of paint.
The story of this film sadly reflects the real life story of Richardson and Neeson who had had their own family tragedy and that reality does sit in the background, especially as you watch the more emotional scenes where they try to come to terms with the guilt and regret of their loss.
That said, this is very predictable, nuts and bolts bit of storytelling, it follows a very well trodden path, estrangement, new love, relationship growth and change. However, it’s a nicely told story, with warmth, some charm and a nice light humorous touch. While it does deliver laughs, it struggles in its more emotional moments that feel a little “clunky”, although there is a well done father and son scene later in the film.
Liam Neeson is surprisingly watchable in this comic role, with a nice comedic touch and dry delivery, that suggests when he finally retires his action film persona, there’s a career in fluffy romcoms. Lindsay Duncan has a nice cameo as estate agent Kate and Valeria Bilello as Natalia also provides good support.
Made in Italy is a very disposable bit of entertainment, enjoyable enough while its on, beautifully shot with lots of gorgeous Tuscan scenery to enjoy and a nice warm humour. It is unlikely to stick with you much once the credits roll, but pleasant enough.