The title promises “Made in Italy,” but I wouldn’t get too excited. Oh, there’s pretty scenery (including the requisite cypress trees), and a villa to yearn for, even in its dusty, dilapidated state. But for a movie that’s supposedly meant to lift us off our couches and set us down in a verdant dreamscape, this limp foreign-soil fantasy from James D’Arcy doesn’t come close to getting the job done.
Still, there’s Liam Neeson, who’s no small consolation for D’Arcy’s unutterably trite and painfully predictable script. Neeson plays Robert, a grouchy artist whose creative output stalled when his wife died many years earlier. His adult son, Jack (Micheál Richardson, Neeson’s real-life son) is on the brink of a divorce that will leave him jobless unless he buys the London art gallery he’s been running. A quick sale of the family’s neglected Tuscan villa will furnish the necessary cash — provided they clean out its hoard of painful memories and unprocessed grief.
These emotional undercurrents fill “Made in Italy” with wistful echoes of the 2009 loss of Natasha Richardson, Neeson’s wife and Richardson’s mother. Yet both actors struggle to authenticate what should be the movie’s most affecting moments. So, while we anticipate the inevitable healing and bonding, we amuse ourselves by handicapping the likelihood that the tactful real estate agent (the wonderful Lindsay Duncan) will fall for Robert’s scruffy mug and blood-red, massacre-like mural. Or that the gorgeous owner of a local restaurant (Valeria Bilello) will serve Jack dessert after he’s finished his ragù.
In other words, “Made in Italy” feels so recognizable we could almost write it ourselves.
Made in Italy
Rated R for a smidge of language and a boatload of resentment. Running time: 2 hours. In select theaters and available to rent on Amazon, Google Play and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators.