Made In Italy
Jacob Richardson | 19/08/2020
An amiable and ambling film, that wears its heart on its sleeve.
Jack (Michael Richardson) is going through a messy divorce with Ruth; a woman who is not only his soon-to-be-ex-wife, but also the owner of the gallery he curates. Shocked that she might sell the gallery, he implores her to let him buy it - all he has to do is get his Dad (Liam Neeson) to agree to sell the family’s Italian villa. Jack and his failing artist father travel to Tuscany to find their villa decrepit and in need of serious TLC to make it sellable. They set to work on the renovation, but as they make the necessary repairs to the house, they find that the rift between them is also repairing.
Made In Italy is written and directed by actor James D’Arcy, and feels like a film that someone who is just trying their hand at writing and direction would make. This is not a movie that will surprise you in the slightest, and most of the plot will be relatively predictable from the off.
That doesn’t make the movie worthless though; just because you know what will happen, there is still plenty of enjoyment to be had in this luxuriating and relaxed take on the genre. D’Arcy also hits many of the humorous beats that make this piece entertaining, particularly some funny pieces with a ferret and some banter back and forth between the father and son.
Liam Neeson can perform this material in his sleep, and brings a welcome level of capability and class to the proceedings. Richardson has some nice demure leading man chops, a la an early Hugh Grant, but does struggle in some of the more dramatic scenes - in particular in a fight with his father. The remainder of the cast fills the space nicely, with Lindsay Duncan as Kate - an aged real estate agent - a particularly welcome addition.
In the end, Made In Italy is a perfectly serviceable film. Any disappointment in the middling nature of the piece - its unwillingness to tackle anything other than surface level drama, its ex machina solutions to significant problems, and its interestingly shallow arcs for our leads - is overcome by the feelgood nature. You can’t dislike a piece this pure and heartwarming, even if it isn’t technically good.
There’s nothing particularly wrong with Made In Italy - and for utterly standard fare, it’s fine.