Pasta and Liam Neeson? Don’t mind if I do…
As a lover of pasta and of Liam Neeson, I “dibbed” tickets to MADE IN ITALY despite my usual indifference to romcoms. I was also keen to watch a new release – as there’s only so much COVID Netflix binging one can endure…
MADE IN ITALY is a formulaic flick following an alternative artist, Robert (Liam Neeson), and his estranged son, Jack (Neeson’s real-life son Micheál Richardson), who travel to Italy to renovate and sell their Tuscan house which has been largely unused since Jack’s mother tragically died nearly 20 years previous. As expected in such a tale, romance blooms and drama ensues as the past is dragged up and relationships reformed.
MADE IN ITALY is the debut directorial effort of actor James D’Arcy (DUNKIRK). He also penned the screenplay. It’s a noble effort; you can tell D’Arcy has carefully lined up the ingredients he saw as necessary to produce a successful, albeit simple, film: An appealing cast, beautiful landscapes, a romantic location, a blend of comedy, drama and “feel good”…. But there’s something wrong in the mix. It’s clunky and a little shallow, often feeling as though D’Arcy is running through a checklist rather than developing a narrative. Despite a promising story line, we never get the chance to scratch below the surface.
The acting also suggests directorial naivety, with the older and more experienced actors such as Neeson and Lindsay Duncan (as a delightfully blunt realestate agent) producing likeable and believable performances. Yet the younger, less experienced cast members don’t quite hit their stride. At times their performances feel much like a great amateur play rather than a professional movie. Sadly we rarely get to see the awesome chemistry that usually plays out when real-life relatives portray on-screen relatives.
The shooting location is stunning, with cinematographer Mike Eley capturing the beauty and romance of Tuscany with ease. With international travel on the back burner for a long while, it was a welcome window in to possible future European jaunts…and had me craving risotto.
MADE IN ITALY is a light, simple and pleasant flick that doesn’t quite reach its potential. It’s lovely to look at, with gorgeous locations and pretty cinematography. Ultimately, the story is enjoyable despite its immense predictability.
I rate it 6/10.