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My House in Umbria (2003)

Chris Cooper , Giancarlo Giannini , Richard Loncraine  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (136 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Chris Cooper, Giancarlo Giannini, Maggie Smith, Timothy Spall, Ronnie Barker
  • Directors: Richard Loncraine
  • Writers: Hugh Whitemore
  • Format: 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: Unrated
  • Studio: HBO Studios
  • DVD Release Date: November 25, 2003
  • Run Time: 109 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (136 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000CE684
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,192 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "My House in Umbria" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

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

Product Description

Based on the acclaimed novel by William Trevor, My House in Umbria is a charming, evocative drama about a group of travelers in Italy who find solace and friendship after being thrown together by tragedy.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
170 of 171 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CAN'T WAIT FOR THE DVD November 10, 2003
By A Customer
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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82 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We should all learn to forgive 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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80 of 88 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maggie's Showcase--For Better or Worse February 19, 2005
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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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful, beautifully filmed March 28, 2006
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Heart warming!
I watched this by chance as I have a friend who is just not into computers, unusual I know! I place orders for movies she wants on Amazon. Read more
Published 19 days ago by Reiki Wonders
5.0 out of 5 stars Italy anyone?
Excellent character driven story with a great cast. The scenes of Italy are gorgeous. I would highly recommend this film.
Published 28 days ago by K. Petermann
1.0 out of 5 stars a stinker.
This is, hands down, one of the worst movies I have ever watch with people I generally enjoy watching. A mindless, idiotic plot with no redeemable point.
Published 1 month ago by fragrantgrasse
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting movie.
Always enjoy movies about Tuscany and filmed on location. Enjoyed ourselves and shared with others. Not decided if we will watch it again or not.
Published 1 month ago by Debra Gifford
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine movie
This is a first-class movie with one fine actress. What more can I say? I'd recommend it to anybody except teen-agers. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Anne H. Johnson
4.0 out of 5 stars She liked it
This was purchased as a gift and the recipient was happy to receive it. I have not seen the movie.
Published 2 months ago by DUANE E ANDREWS
5.0 out of 5 stars Italianate
Love this film for the beautiful Italian landscapes and the strange circumstances that bring these people together to work in concert for their future happiness. Read more
Published 2 months ago by kitchenfiddler
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful scenery
Beautiful scenery. Wonderful wonderful cast. Different kind of story line but still very good. Was not "fond"of Emily at first but grew to like her after a few viewings. Read more
Published 3 months ago by P
5.0 out of 5 stars Maggie Smith at her best
Moving story of how unknown persons thrown together by circumstances can be united and overcome their injuries by the outpouring of love and attention of one lonely women with a... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Warren Strelcheck
5.0 out of 5 stars My House in Umbria
I view My House in Umbria when I want to spend a couple of hours "relaxing in Italy" and enjoying the ambience and fine acting. One of my favs.
Published 3 months ago by Sophia Rose
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