Call me Nancy. Whenever I myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly, November in my soul; then I account it high time to watch Under the Tuscan Sun. It may cost me my Man-card, but I turn to Diane Lane and the unlikely family gathered around her to embrace again feelings of faith, hope, and love. Come with me.
Audrey Wells’ adaptation of the Frances Mayes memoir probably didn’t target the melancholy middle-age male demographic, but it hits he spot for me. It tells the story of an American writer who buys a broken-down Tuscan villa, even as she is recovering from a divorce, and engages on a restoration project. Both the writer and the villa are restored in due course.
Along the way we meet a real estate broker with the heart of St. Francis of Assisi, a gaggle of Polish construction workers in varied states of emotional distress, and a jilted pregnant lesbian best-friend--all of whom comprise the family gathered around Frances--herself a bit of a work in progress. It doesn’t hurt at all that Frances is played by Diane Lane, the thinking-man’s Hollywood beauty (I say this because I found a thinking man and asked his opinion).
Spiritual references are added to the film like seasoning: nuns who toddle through various scenes like a waddle of penguins; the expressive silent icon of the the Blessed Virgin, and an Italian wedding scene beautiful enough to cause me to become Catholic (again).
This film portrays the frailty of life and the beauty of restoration. It is a relentlessly hopeful story that women of both sexes will enjoy. In my opinion the guys should bring the chocolate and peanut butter--and leave your Man-card at the door.