Scathing Movie Review: Under the Tuscan Sun

Marco and I just watched Under the Tuscan Sun.

It had wonderful cinematography. The house, Diane Lane and Raoul Bova were beautiful.

Now. Please pay attention. If you

A) loved this movie, and/or

B) think I’m swell, and/or

C) you think this film has a plot for which I might give away spoilers

I am warning you: Stop reading now. Otherwise, join me for some tea and cynicism after the jump.

Things I liked:

  • The cinematography (albeit aided by the stunning backdrop that is Tuscany)
  • The tour guide’s speech about why Diane Lane is on a gay tour of Tuscany
  • Sandra Oh, who kicks the ass of practically every other actress working today
  • “Can you star-69 Italy? I’m gonna try it”
  • When Raoul Bova says, “Ciao, piccolo” to the kitten
  • The Realtor
  • The Polish guys
  • The fact that Italians played Italians
  • The fact that I did not pay to watch it
  • I’d kill for that house
  • When Diane Lane and Raoul Bova were in bed in the morning, and she (SO unnecessarily) reaches down his pajama pants and (SO unnecessarily) wants to know the word for penis in Italian, and Marco and I screamed CAZZO, then laughed so hard we had to pause the movie when Raoul Bova said, “Exhausted.”


Things I disliked:

  • The plot
  • The dialogue
  • The stereotypes
  • The clichés
  • The stereotypical clichés
  • The offensive condescension that was lifted directly from the book, mitigated only by the inherent likability of Diane Lane
  • The fact that she got a bank account AND bought a house, seemingly within a matter of hours
  • The fact that a farming family in rural Tuscany spoke fluent English
  • The bizarre mix of modern wardrobes + costumes pulled out of a dusty, forgotten attic at Cinecittà
  • The bizarre Moulin Rouge homage that was the kissing scene
  • The pastis-looking color of the limoncello they drank at the lunch on the beach

Oh, come ON:

  • The old man tipping his hat in the end (Although her reaction was not unlike mine in similar situations)
  • The whole bit with the hallway faucet. She tore down a bearing wall, but didn’t think to lob that off?
  • The scene with the dude and the ladybug at the end. SHOCKER
  • The unexplained mystery of how she managed to have enough money to buy the house, pay the contractors, and fill the place with gorgeous shit
  • Pawel and Chiara subplot. Yawn
  • Improbable (i.e., perfect) view of flag throwing brigade
  • The fact that the hateful woman who wrote that insipid book got to see her story (or rather, something vaguely resembling her story, something more lively, since her story was insipid) on screen, and herself played by Diane Lane
  • The Realtor bought a gift, wrapped it, brought it with him to the piazza, and gave it to Diane Lane in full view of his wife and the entire town? Not bloody likely
  • Diane Lane seemed to have an aversion to windowpanes
  • When she gets a motorino ride from the cop in Positano – sidesaddle, no less
  • The three Roman guys running after her

Shark jumping moment:

Did she really think he was going to be waiting for her? REALLY? What is she, 17 years old? What is she, the most naïve woman on the planet? I feel for her, taking a chance like that; but did it honestly never occur to her the entire train ride down there that maybe not everyone lives alone in a house in rural Tuscany, that maybe – just maybe – someone as good-looking and available as Raoul Bova might just be taking advantage of both of those attributes?

Plots like this are the reason why a solid half of my income is derived from ghostwriting dating and relationship advice books. Ironically, it’s probably also the reason why the other half is derived from travel writing.

Hey – thanks, Under the Tuscan Sun! Without movies like you, I’d be broke! Ha!

22 thoughts on “Scathing Movie Review: Under the Tuscan Sun

  1. So, I’m a little unlcear here. Did you like the movie? Tell us how your really feel?!?

    Raoul is tasty in the movie. He is just adorable.

    Dude. Lighten up. It’s just a movie🙂

  2. Hehe, I think I equally disliked most of the things you hated. Only the “unexplained mystery of how she managed to have enough money to buy the house, pay the contractors, and fill the place with gorgeous shit” excepted (were you doing something else during the entire first San Fransisco divorce settlement/house-selling portion of the movie??).

    I’ve gotta say, if Diane Lane and I ever met in real life, we’d instantly become best friends. I’m sure of it. So you’re right, she did redeem quite a lot of the plot failings, and I’m not just saying that because she’s my hypothetically potential best friend.

    And Sandra Oh and her character were spectacular.

    Did I mention that I briefly visited ‘Bramasole’ while in Tuscany earlier this month? You totally should’ve gone too. But for me it was more the obligatory pilgrimage of those who got some sort of satisfaction and felt kinship with Diane Lane’s character *and* her cheesy, unnecessary water faucet after going through a messy divorce.

    At least you could’ve gotten a good pic of the house for your post🙂

    • HAHAHAHA Kim, you crack me up.

      I did see the divorce thing, but she had NO money before the divorce, and then with the home buyout it just seemed like she would have had just enough to, like, live on for a while. Maybe it’s the New Yorker in me that disbelieves anyone can live in a place so gorgeous, and redo it, and still eat and stuff. LOL

      Yeah, you just know Diane Lane is totally cool and so down to earth. You can have her, and I’ll have Sandra Oh, and we’ll all go to lunch every Friday together.

  3. You know the fountain in Cortona doesn’t really exsist. A long time Cortona resident told me “It was bunch of crap! It was made out of styrofoam. We threw it away! But now all these tourists come looking for it!”

  4. Brilliant review. That movie made me mostly want to knock people’s heads together.

    Except Raoul Bova of course. I’d find something entirely different to do with his.

  5. Amen! I’ve had to take groups of Americans to Cortona because of that book and movie. Frances Mayes (the author) basically has the keys to the city now. All the stores and restaurants tell you she is one of their customers.
    Cortona is a lovely hill town but watch out during tourist season. It is overrun!
    What about the whole blonde/Fellini/Fifi storyline? What was that all about?
    I have to admit, both the cinematography and Raoul Bova were breathtaking!

    • Serenella, I know – I couldn’t even touch the blonde in this post, becasue that would have made it into a novel-length dissertation on the uselessness of such a potentially great character.

  6. Pingback: At Home in Tuscany » Words matter: on “local travel” and other catch-phrases

  7. hey I really liked the movie, I guess it’s the sorta feel-good movie that makes you dream on and wander how your life would be like if you would actually move to Tuscany? Anyhow great post!

    Btw, Christine, would you be interested in a link exchange? I’ll be adding you on my blogroll. I’ll love to hear from you!😉

  8. Bloody hilarious review!
    Some scenes were cleverly done. Then again, you can say the same about Jaws.
    Like the quote: when someone tells you they don’t love you anymore, you should just die on the spot.
    Good film to watch after a break up.

  9. I loved this movie. I am quite devistated that the fountain was “fake”. but
    I’d still love to go.
    This is truely a fantasy movie. Mostly because I know in real life this would never happen.
    But it’s wonderful to “dream”.
    Wonderful actors. Diane and I could be wonderful friends. Only difference is I’d have to have a job.

  10. Thanks for the article you have provided here….i have gone through all your article you have provided here that’s good to a reader…and the site looks really cool. and the information is really helpful.

  11. Diane Lane. Sigh. It’s odd, I don’t care for alot of her movies, but I could stare at her all day long. I’ll watch anything she’s in. I’ve had a crush on her since “A Little Romance” in the late 70’s. She is a great actress and every interview I’ve ever seen with her clearly demonstrates her intelligence, wit and charm. Even after some recognition a few years ago, she’s still highly underrated.

    • She totally salvaged the crumbling detritus of that movie. She IS underrated. I really, really liked her in that role.

  12. You two must be very precise people and live such wonderful full lives ..
    as evidenced by your complete analyzing of this movie .. do you analyze everything so completely ?
    Do you have a lot of time on your hands ?
    It’s too bad you can’t sit back enjoy the movie for what it is and relax…you don’t need to be so analytical just enjoy things for what they are .. this was a simple beautiful and positive movie about relationships and nothing more ..

  13. I just watched this movie and I agree totally with Ned. This was a beautiful and positive film and that’s it. Great scenery too which makes one want to visit Tuscany. Nothing to get bent out of shape over😉

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