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My House In Umbria

217 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

My House In Umbria (DVD)

A train, traveling gently through the rolling hills of the Italian countryside, explodes. In one carriage, there are four survivors: "The General," an elderly English gentleman, Werner, a young German, aimee, an orphaned eight-year old girl, and emily Delahunty, an English novelist who invites them to her home to recuperate. Thrown together by misfortune, they find themselves attempting to rework the torn fabric of their lives, while a concerned police inspector attempts to piece together the events that brought them there. When aimee's straightlaced American uncle arrives to take her away, it shakes an already delicate household to the core. Will the magic of emily's house in Umbria bring happiness to all? or will happiness prove as elusive as the answers to the quesitons that bind them together?



Falling neatly into the Enchanted April and Under the Tuscan Sun category, the made-for-HBO My House in Umbria boasts lovely Italian vistas and comforting Englishness. But it begins with a note of violence: on a train rolling through the sunny countryside, a terrorist bomb detonates, killing a handful of passengers. The strangers that survive recuperate at the villa of an eccentric but kindly romance novelist, also a survivor of the blast. She's played by Maggie Smith, who bustles through the role with a pleasing mix of gin and daffodils. Chris Cooper is an uptight American who comes to the villa to pick up his orphaned niece and bristles at the bohemian atmosphere. Director Richard Loncraine maintains the melancholy mood amidst the sun-dappled gardens of Umbria, but Smith really holds the film together with her authority and slightly tipsy humor. --Robert Horton

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Various
  • Directors: Various
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English, Italian
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Dubbed: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: HBO Studios
  • DVD Release Date: April 12, 2005
  • Run Time: 109 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (217 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000CE684
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,137 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "My House In Umbria" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

204 of 205 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 10, 2003
Format: DVD
I saw this lovely film on HBO, and it's to their immense credit that this film was seen at all. This film would never be released by a major studio these days. They are only concerned with huge blockbuster movies, yet anyone who cares about a strong, emotional story, set in gorgeous Umbria and starring Maggie Smith shouldn't miss this gem.
Maggie Smith stars as an aging romance novelist living in splendid isolation in her villa in the Umbrian countryside. On a shopping trip, the train she's traveling on is bombed by terrorists. When the dust is settled, Smith, and several of the travelers who shared her compartment, are in the hospital, including a little girl who has lost her parents. Smith generously offers her home as a refuge for the survivors to recuperate.
The traumatized little girl can't speak. Smith's heart goes out to her, and she does her best to make her as comfortable as possible. Smith's rather bohemian character, as well as her fondness for cocktails makes her a slightly madcap, tipsy hostess. Rather lonely of late, this unexpected intrusion in her life makes her feel needed. There's a young man with a secret to hide, and an older pensioner who round out the group. Then the little girl's uptight uncle (played with unstated eloquence by Chris Cooper) comes to take custody of his brother's orphaned daughter.
Smith is devasted by his coldness, his disapproval, and senses that he simply is taking the girl out of a sense of duty to his brother.
I won't give anymore of the plot away. Dame Maggie won a well-deserved Emmy for her superb portrayal of a middle-aged spinster, lonely for love, and with her own tragic past, who finds a purpose in her life in the aftermath of tragedy.
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101 of 103 people found the following review helpful By Alane M. Downes on January 5, 2004
Format: VHS Tape
You can read some of the other reviews to get more of the gist of the plot, but I just want to add that this movie is well worth seeing. This movie should move you. Dame Maggie Smith,portraying an aging romance novelist, is elegant, understated, and honest. She shows in her anguish the depths of her depression as she senses old age coming upon her and her appeal as a woman all but snuffed out. The girl (I don't have her name on hand, unfortunately) who played the child who had lost both her parents in the bomb blast and was still in the early stages of recovery when her uncle wanted to uproot her from her new home in Umbria, was breathtakingly luminous. The young actress plays the part with such sincerity. She does not have much of a speaking role, but she becomes by way of the intermingling of the characters, the focal point of the movie. Her interaction with Mrs. Delahonte (sp?)(Maggie Smith) and with Werner, the young German, is deeply moving.As Mrs. Delahonte (sp?) becomes deeply attached to the young girl and it appears that this relationship will be tragically severed, you realize that the notion of family and emotional bonding is never defined by blood ties alone. The relationship between Mrs. Delahonte and the young girl is beautifully portrayed. This movie is timeless in its message: we all should forgive because we all have something for which we need to be forgiven.
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86 of 95 people found the following review helpful By Pintorini on February 19, 2005
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Writer Alan Bennett has been quoted as saying that we're "lucky to be living in her time." He was talking about Maggie Smith.

Bennett's observation seems a tad bittersweet. Yes, we're lucky to be living in her time because she's fabulous, but also because, unless we happen to catch her live on the West End stage, we aren't likely to see her in much of a leading part, ever. In fact, the noteworthy films in which this two-time Oscar winner has played the principal role basically consist of this made-for-HBO endeavor and *The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie* (1969).

The upshot is that *My House in Umbria* has a tremendous weight to bear--that of a legendary actress's best screen vehicle in thirty-five years. It seems a little unfair to judge it based on whether it's worthy of such a distinction, and I can't help wondering whether this accounts for some of this rather plotless film's, shall we say, generous critical reviews.

Still, the more times I see it--and it speaks volumes when I'm able to watch a movie more than once--the more I appreciate its leisurely, picturesque style, and the more uplifted I feel by its timely and refreshing theme: that of injured survivors being "set free" by their enjoyment of nature and each other.

And, ultimately, I begin to think of this movie as a vehicle worthy of its star, and as one in the recent string of high-quality HBO films that have been so good I've almost wanted to send the company a fan letter. Go, HBO.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By R. Baker on March 28, 2006
Format: DVD
A touching story made all the better by the excellent performances from all involved, especially of course Maggie Smith. One of the many nice things about her is that she has allowed herself to age naturally and gracefully, none of this facial makeover-business that make so many Hollywood eldsters look so ridiculous and pathetic. Maggie gives nobility to aging and is not ashamed to be seen under less than galmorous conditions.

That aside, I expected "My House In Umbria" to be more light-hearted than it was. Something about the title made me think that, I guess. Anyway, it was darker than I had anticipated, but that's not a complaint. It delved into real human issues (what happens to people after violence and death unexpectedly invade their lives). However, it avoids doing it in any really deep way, for better or worse. Some of the events that take place (don't read further if you haven't seen the film yet!!) seem unlikely: Why, for instance, would the German youth stay at her house so long, or at all for that matter, considering what he had done? Still, it's a touching film, one worth seeing for the humanity it contains.
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