Bright and Cheerful
Under the Tuscan Sun makes for a refreshing breeze of a movie. It wasn't going to change anyone's world, or win any awards, but it makes for a delightful escape.
I'm sure the imagery of Italy is all stereotyped and clichéd, but this isn't a film about real life (Despite being based upon a semi-autobiographical novel). The central character of Frances, played by Diane Lane (Judge Dredd, The Perfect Storm), never suffers any money worries, barring a few devices to illicit our sympathies at the beginning. There is no mention of problems getting Visas to live there. Almost everyone ends up being decent and helpful... Yet none of these things are important or lacking in this context. This is quite simply a fairy tale about a character escaping the end of a collapsed life, and beginning anew.
Diane Lane fits into her part snugly, while the supporting characters vary between warm and likeable, to quirky and dream-like (with a notable turn by Lindsey Duncan in her portrayal of the eccentric Katherine). There are numerous intermingling side stories, from Frances' pregnant lesbian best-friend, to the romantic entanglements of a young lad working on the house, amongst many others, all of which serve to add life and interest to the tale.
The cinematography is deliciously sumptuous and full of earthy colours, and the soundtrack by Christophe Beck is cheerful and bright, never letting us really feel a negative moment.
There's nothing shockingly new or original about Under The Tuscan Sun, but neither is there anything so contrived or un-likeable as to make us feel frustrated or annoyed. Even the most predictable elements are laced with enough playful detail and whimsy that they will raise a smile.
It is one of those pleasant films that leaves you with a warm satisfied glow, best viewed on a warm summer afternoon with a few cool drinks on a comfortable couch.