Made in Italy
by George Wolf
Made It Italy is a romantic comedy that follows a veteran artist and his estranged adult son still struggling over the devastating loss of their wife and mother. The chance to restore an old house in Tuscany brings with it the chance for some relationship mending.
With the casting of Liam Neeson and his real life son Micheál Richardson in the leads, writer/director James D’Arcy isn’t shy about introducing life to art.
Richardson adopted his maternal surname two years ago to honor the memory of his mother Miranda Richardson, who passed away in 2009 after a tragic ski accident. Even during the film’s most familiar beats, this family history adds a constant, beneficial layer of feeling.
Son Jack Foster manages a British art gallery owned by the family of his soon-to-be ex wife. They’re selling and he’s desperate to buy, enough to call up his estranged dad Robert with a plan to raise the cash by selling their old Italian villa.
As you probably guessed by the words “Italian” and “villa,” the place is surrounded by incredibly picturesque beauty. A visit by a blunt real estate agent (Lindsay Duncan, always a pleasure) assures them she could find a buyer, but only after a major facelift.
Dad isn’t happy, but agrees to help, setting up construction montages and meals in town where Jack meets lovely restauranteur Natalia (Valeria Bilello).
D’Arcy, a veteran actor at the helm of his first feature, isn’t breaking any new ground here, just making the surroundings feel plenty comfortable. The comedy is rarely more than droll and amusing, but aside from the cartoonishly misplaced rich couple sizing up the place, it carries a simple charm.
The surroundings are gorgeous, the tidy ending is never in doubt, and the real life family ties provide unspoken warmth. It will no doubt remind you of places you’ve already been, but the soft edges and lived-in appeal of Made In Italy feel like a weathered welcome mat.