Made in Italy Review – A Delightful Escape, Magnetic and Inviting

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Made in Italy, from IFC Films, presents the story of a father and son who are forced to confront the barriers that have separated them as they undertake the challenges of repairing their Tuscany vacation home.

Written and director by James D'Arcy, Made In Italy stars Liam Neeson, Michaël Richardson, Valeria Bilello, Lindsay Duncan, Marco Quaglia, Gian Marco Tavani, and Helena Antonio.

The film begins in London, at a posh modern art gallery opening where we meet Jack, played by Michaël Richardson, who is working the crowd, when his soon-to-be-ex-wife arrives explaining that her family is taking back the gallery and simply, "You're out."

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He is sure he can buy the gallery if he can convince his father, Robert, an eccentric artist, played by Liam Neeson, to sell the vacation home they own in Tuscany. So important is this sale that before we know it, he has worked out the details and soon the two, who haven't spoken in some time are off to the countryside where they find the home in as much disrepair as their relationship.

After the first couple of days, we meet Kate, played by Lindsay Duncan, a no-nonsense real estate salesperson, who tells the two if making a quick sale is the plan they need to get moving. Good bones is about the only compliment she can muster as the rest of the house appears to be falling down around her.

With the repair work going slow, Jack is completely frustrated with his father for all his perceived failures and decides to head off to town. After meeting a local chef, Natalia, played by Valeria Bilello, who cooks him a delicious meal and explains the history of the house, he returns to the house with a game plan.

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Soon, they are working together on the house. Their relationship, which we find out splintered when his mother died in a horrific car crash near the house. Jack was still very young and only understands how life was altered after his mother's death; Robert still sees her in the withered vines, the broken disrepair, the rage painting, and the locked room, where all her possessions are still pristinely preserved.

Soon the house is taking shape, the two have ventured off together to the town for dinner and are enjoying the warmth of the village, the home, now somewhat livable has memories worth saving.

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Finally, with all the repairing, plastering, painting, cleaning, and fixing, the day arrives when they receive an offer on the house. Faux sophistication saunters into the home, with Hollywood ideas of betterment, and suddenly even with the desire to heal the relationship with his son. He passes.

This brings about the confrontation that has been brewing throughout the film. With each attempting pleasantries resulting in stinging sarcasm, passive aggressive action, and finally out right aggression, this moment, when Jack confronts Robert over his reaction after his mom dies, the decades of blame, miscommunications, estrangement, failing to verbalize the hurt because he feared the answer, erupted.

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Made In Italy has a beguiling charm. It was captured my attention immediately. I genuinely enjoyed the film.

The screen chemistry of real-life father-son, Liam Neeson and Michaël Richardson, is perfect, and their comfortability with each other allows them the freedom to reach deeper and tap into emotional realities.

The Tuscany countryside is glorious, and the cinematography mesmerizing. The story is well-told, the analogy of the house mirroring the relationship is clear and smart.

A delightful escape, Made in Italy is magnetic and inviting.

Made in Italy will be opening in theaters, in Drive-in theaters and on Demand, August 7, 2020. See it.

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