ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Tuscan is a Sun of a bitch
By Ashley Audrain
Under the Tuscan Sun
Starring: Diane Lane, Sandra Oh, Raoul Bova
Director: Audrey Wells
THE FLOWER GIRLS OF TUSCANY. From left to right: Chiara
(Giulia Steigerwalt), Frances (Diane Lane) and Patti
"Stop looking for love and it will find you."
"Don't lose your childhood innocence - it's the most important
thing in life."
"Love is blind."
Under the Tuscan Sun has more romantic clich˙s and shoddy
metaphors than an episode of Oprah.
However, if you can get past the symbolic overkill and the
cheesy, fairy-tale dialogue in the movie, you will find a warm
story about second chances in life. The film is based on the
best-selling memoir by the same title, written by Frances Mayes.
Diane Lane plays Frances, a San Francisco writer who, while
at a book launch, is tipped off by a stranger about her husband's
In a matter of five melodramatic minutes, Frances has settled
her divorce, sold her house, moved to Tuscany at the advice
of her friends and purchased an old villa called "Bramasole" on
an impulse. She decides to hire a Polish work crew, with no
experience in renovations, to help her restore the home while
she simultaneously revamps her life.
Frances quickly becomes the village socialite and befriends
the entire population of Tuscany, natural for an English-speaking
American in such a situation. There are too many casual underdeveloped
characters to keep track of. Luckily Lane meets the expectations
of her audience after her award-winning performance in Unfaithful
and is satisfying as the only lead actor in the film. While
she struggles with some early attempts at humor, Lane is eventually
lovable and endearing in a performance as fine as any other
leading lady in Hollywood.
Among the mass of characters are several potential love interests
for Frances; she flirts rather desperately with each of them
during her lonely days in Tuscany, leaving the audience in
suspense as to which man will eventually end her over-emphasized
celibacy. Typically the youngest and sexiest character wins,
but of course Marcello (Bova) is actually involved with another
woman and sadly Frances remains alone. Unfortunately, the lush
landscapes of Italy are more stimulating than the unsatisfactory
sex scenes in this film, making it hard for the audience to
muster some compassion for her broken heart.
After fighting for the marriage of two young star-crossed
lovers, caring for her pregnant lesbian friend, falling in
and then out of "love," easily learning a new language and
restoring her sprawling villa on a shoestring budget, Frances
finally finds happiness again. Just when she thought she could
survive without a man in her life, one comes knocking on her
villa door: an American traveller who was in Italy and heard
a certain author was living in Tuscany. I'll leave the predictability
of this one up to you.
This movie will satisfy your embarrassing itch for a good,
solid chick-flick with the added bonus of some nice scenery
and Marcello isn't too hard to look at either. Like any feel-good
romance about renewal and happiness, this love story might
inspire a tear or two - right before you quickly realize you've
been had by all the elements of a classic fairy tale.