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58 of 64 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2003
What starts out as an Italian "Money Pit" with all the attendant broken pipes, crumbling walls and incompetent handymen makes a turn for the better about a third of the way through: a more emotionally centered and revealing movie,"Under the Tuscan Sun."
The luminescent Diane Lane stars as Frances, an intelligent, loving women with close and committed friends who finds herself in a situation that many people do: with a mate who has fallen out of love, wants a divorce as well as possession of a much loved and painstakingly renovated house, this one in San Francisco. After the divorce Frances goes to Tuscany on a lark, falls in love with a villa there, buys it and proceeds to renovate it. The villa then is the physical manifestation of the shedding of her old life and marriage and the hope for the renovation and rehabilitation of her love life as well as her life in general.
That she probably places too much faith in the physical to solve the emotional does not detract at all from the guts and hope that it takes to do so. And Lane is so psychically centered and open as Frances that you cannot help but be moved by her situation.
There are some silly plot lines and performances that I wish weren't, but with a central performance as attractive and genuinely loving and feminine as Lane's, "Under The Tuscan Sun" is as warm and inviting as bread just out of the oven.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2003
We'll I'm not usually one to go to see comedy-romance films but my girlfriend insisted and I was persuaded by the fact that Diane Lane (one of my favorite actresses) was starring in it. Honestly, this is a very good movie. It is one of the best surprises of the year. The film is edited in a way that never makes it seem boring or long-winded and the film is very (I mean very) entertaining, with some great dialog and some excellent comedy and well-timed laughs. A few times I was uncontrollably laughing it was so funny. The acting was amazing with Diane Lane giving one of her best performances in the lead role as Frances Mayes. The film looked great and had an excellent soundtrack as well. I recommend this film very much indeed, even to guys because it isn't cliched and slushy in the same way other romantic films are. It sure makes a great date movie - Under The Tuscan Sun is a marvel!
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87 of 104 people found the following review helpful
I am peturbed that Amazon would spotlight two bad reviews. This was an awesome movie that kept me watching it from beginning to end. I haven't read the book, but after watching that movie, I do intend to. It's amazing how uplifting this spirited movie was. Diane Lane was supurb without coming across as trying too much. We never get to see her husband "Tom" who screwed her over royally in the divorce, which I think was a good decision. The movie stays in the present looking ahead to the future with a sense of hope and promise. Pick up this movie for an excellent movie night - even if you're not a chick!
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on April 15, 2005
Not a good movie to watch at the theatre, but great to watch on a grey rainy wet day. Escape to Italy, and enjoy the golden countrysides. I just have one thing to point out, the point of the movie wasn't for Frances to go to Italy to find a guy and live happily ever after. It's to show how even if she wasn't with someone, she can still be happy and her life can still be filled with flavour. That's why all the potential guys in the movie entered and left the screen. Also, it just goes to show that if she can get herself out of her depression, she could enjoy life more, and eventually things will turn out fine.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on May 16, 2006
This film was a very pleasant surprise. I picked it out as a movie for my girlfriend and I to watch, since I had heard good things about it several years ago. This IS a chick-flick type of movie, but it definitely does not follow the same VERY tired romantic-comedy formula script that Hollywood loves to crank out. Yes, I suppose Under The Tuscan Sun is a romantic comedy, but it is a GOOD one, and it is fairly original in its approach.
First, I should say the beautiful Diane Lane is a really great actress, and plays her part perfectly here. You truly believe in her character, which really adds to the believability of the film (suspension of disbelief is important to enjoying a movie). Most of the supporting cast does an excellent job as well (with the slight exception of "Stone Face" Sandra Oh, her face always seems devoid of emotion to me). Probably the most important member of the supporting cast is the SCENERY. The landscapes showcased in this movie are gorgeous and pretty astonishing. The excellent cinematography takes full advantage of the beautiful scenery Italy provides, and the movie is all the better for it.
While the film is not outright original per se, it does take a rather fresh approach to romantic comedy, and you won't be able to predict what is going to happen far in advance (when's the last time you could say that about a romantic comedy??). The script is very good, with quite a few laughs and excellent pacing, and the dialogue is sharp. All in all, a VERY GOOD movie that both men and women can enjoy.
A couple of other things: apparently, the film radically departs from the novel. I didn't read the book (and have no intention of doing so). You won't need to read the book to enjoy this movie. Also, I read a few gripes about Diane Lane not being 'beautiful' because she is 'old'. A matter of opinion I guess, but to me she looks fantastic in this movie at 38... and she really IS a great actress.
Under The Tuscan Sun is RECOMMENDED for anyone looking for a 'couples' movie that both will enjoy (but Macho He-Men shouldn't bother, you only like Rambo type movies).
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
American author Frances Mayes, was best known for published poetry work and also being the Professor of Creative Writing, director of the Poetry Center and chair of the Department of Creative Writing at San Francisco University.

But in 1996, Frances would release her memoir, "Under the Tuscan Sun", based on her experience of purchasing an abandoned villa in rural Cortona in Tuscany, Italy. The memoir was a success and was number one on the New York Times Best Sellers list for over two years.

The memoir would eventually receive a film adaptation in 2003 courtesy of filmmaker/writer Audrey Wells ("George of the Jungle", "Shall We Dance?", "The Game Plan"). And the film would star actress Diane Lane ("The Perfect Storm", "Unfaithful", "Jumper"), Sandra Oh ("Grey's Anatomy", "Sideways", "Hard Candy"), Lindsay Duncan ("Alice in Wonderland", "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace") and Vincent Riotta ("The Dark Knight", "Revolver", "Heaven"), plus a cameo from one of Italian's legendary filmmakers Mario Monicelli.

Having been released on DVD back in 2003, "Under the Tuscan Sun" was released on Blu-ray in July 2012.

VIDEO:

"Under the Tuscan Sun" is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1). A major positive about "Under the Tuscan Sun" is the location of where the film is shot in Italy is absolutely beautiful. Cinematographer Geoffrey Simpson ("Fried Green Tomatoes", "Little Women", "Shine") did a wonderful job of capturing the beauty of Italy through this film. Colors are vibrant during the outdoor scenes, closeups feature detail on the faces of the talent, black levels are nice and deep and much better clarity of this film on Blu-ray vs. its DVD counterpart.

I detected no artifacts, banding or any problems while viewing this film. If anything, fans of "Under the Tuscan Sun" will enjoy the HD transfer of this film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

"Under the Tuscan Sun" is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital. For a romantic comedy, dialogue is crystal clear and while there is some music, the film is primarily dialogue driven coming through the front and center channels. But the surround channels are used. Quite effectively during the storm sequence and also for ambiance, especially during scenes with a larger crowd. Overall, the lossless soundtrack for "Under the Tuscan Sun" was good and quite appropriate for a romantic comedy.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES

"Under the Tuscan Sun" comes with the following special features:

Audio Commentary - Featuring audio commentary with director Audrey Wells. Wells talks about the film adaptation of "Under the Tuscan Sun", working with the talent and crew, shooting in various locations in Italy plus the costume and set design.
Tuscany 101 Making of Featurette - (9:26) Featuring interviews with filmmaker Audrey Wells, author Frances Mayes and the cast regarding the "Under the Tuscan Sun".
Deleted Scenes - (2:31) Featuring three deleted scenes.

JUDGMENT CALL:

For any adult who has been married and then finding themselves divorced, especially after their 40′s, it's a frightening experience.

It's one thing to start over from scratch, when you are younger but when you are older, you just never know what is out there, whether you still have what it takes to get into a new relationship but mostly the fear of starting over.

What I enjoyed about "Under the Tuscan Sun" is the fact that it's based on the real-life memoir of Frances Mayes and that Diane Keaton would play the character with efficacy.

A romantic comedy shot in a beautiful location, "Under the Tuscan Sun" is a movie that many divorcees can relate to (ore those who have ended a long relationship with their partner), because these are issues that many people face. The difference is that not many people get the opportunity to escape to Italy or another country.

So, watching the film, you can't help but laugh and be delighted by the character of Frances Mayes, as she tries to find her way in Italy. Yes, she is aware about Italian men (and we see many scenes with Italian men trying to get her attention), especially the number of Italian men who are attracted to Frances, but yet are married. It's a different culture than America but it's quite fascinating to see it all happen in Italy and see how the character of Frances manages to learn about herself through the people she meets and dates.

But there is no doubt that the film is quite irresistible due to its location. From the beautiful buildings to the local merchants, to seeing Katherine (Lindsay Duncan) being a bit La Dolce Vitta or to see Frances Mayes learning to cook Italian food and preparing it for her Polish workers. Suffice to say, it's a fun film with plenty of enjoyable supporting actors.

"Grey's Anatomy" actress Sandra Oh stars alongside then fellow "Grey's Anatomy" co-star Kate Walsh as a lesbian couple expecting a baby. Pawel Szajda as Pawel, the Polish immigrant who has fallen for the Italian Chiara (as portrayed by Giulia Steigerwalt). Two y0ung people who have fallen in love but whether or not her parents would support their relationship because he is Polish (and has no major job).

The acting performance was well-done but Diane Lane absolutely shined in this film and was delightful to watch in this film!

As for the Blu-ray release, the video quality is an upgrade over the DVD release. Lossless audio definitely sounds great via the surround channels, may it be the storm sequence or crowd ambiance, "Under the Tuscan Sun" looks and sounds great via HD. As for special features, it's pretty much the same special features on the original DVD - audio commentary, deleted Scenes and a short making-of featurette.

But overall, "Under the Tuscan Sun" was a fun romantic comedy. Granted, there is no major male co-star to go along with Diane Lane, but that's perfectly fine. This whole film is about a divorcee starting over with her life and learning more about herself and the fact that the world is not going to end. And no matter how scary life can be at this new chapter in a divorcee's life, you move forward and keep living your life.

If you are a fan of this 2003 film or just wanting a beautiful, delightful romantic comedy on Blu-ray that is not so much focused on a relationship but more about one woman coming off a long relationship and starting over in a foreign country, then definitely give "Under the Tuscan Sun" a try!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2004
Frances (Lane) is a writter who makes a living as a book critic. She finds out the hard way that her husband is having an affair and gets a divorce, although she ends up losing her house to her ex (he 'pays' her for about half of it), so she decides to follow a friend Patti's advice (Oh) and travel to Tuscany. While visiting the little town of Cortona, Frances has a "terrible idea" and decides to buy a Villa.
The Villa needs a lot of repairs and Francesca (as the locals start calling her) hires a band of misfit Polish workers. As time passes and work on her Villa goes on, Frances' life changes completely. She gets absorbed by the "Italian" way of life - not worrying so much about everything, enjoying life and not lingering on sad memories.
This is a fine romantic comedy. Perhaps one of the best of the last couple of years. It's a shame that it wasn't noticed by more people (it's box office was barely over 43MM). Diane Lane shines in her role and Sandra Oh is really funny in the few moments she gets (she is the scene stealer of the film). The rest of the characters are perfectly cast with what I'm assuming to be European actors.
But the one thing that makes this movie worth watching (I could go so far as to say owning, but nah!) are the gorgeous Tuscan landscapes. The beautiful little towns, the fabulous Villas, the pebble paved streets, the beautiful flower covered fields. There's also the little town by the sea where Marcello (Frances' love interest) lives. Unfortunately I didn't catch the name, otherwise I'd be taking a plane there right this moment. Keep an eye of cinematographer Geoffrey Simpson (Shine, Little women), because he shot a gorgeous looking movie.
The only downside I found is that there's a couple of scenes in which the movies turns to magical realism. I didn't feel those scenes fit with the rest of the movie. Maybe it's just me.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2003
I am not a huge fan of the romantic comedy genre. More often than not, a romantic comedy is nothing more than a few good looking people thrown together and saddled with a lousy script. That's not to say that there aren't notable exceptions, but for the most part they suck. Based on the previews for this movie, I didn't have high hopes, however I did receive a free pass to watch a sneak preview for the movie, so how could I say no?
Having not read the book, I really didn't know what to expect. Let me tell you it was a pleasant surprise. For starters, Diane Lane was the perfect choice for the lead character Frances Mayes. She brings a natural reality to the character, instead of the saccharin sweet typically found in a romantic comedy. Diane instantly makes you feel like you know this woman. She's your neighbor, or someone you work with. In the scene after she learns of her husband's infidelities, she looks horrible - exactly like you'd expect like a woman would look after traumatic news. Of course Diane Lane is a very beautiful woman and as the movie progresses that becomes more and more apparent. Luckily Diane is more than just a pretty face and her performance is stellar. The movie as a whole is understated, letting things play out instead of spelling everything out and Diane provides a wonderful tapestry for you to see what is happening to her. Her reactions tell you more than pithy dialog ever could and as a result you end up taking the journey with her.
As much as I loved Diane Lane in this movie, she is surrounded by an incredible supporting cast. Sandra Oh, as the best friend, delivers an authentic performance. Instead of the typical "funny sidekick" so often played by those in the role of best friend, she's down to earth and real. Raoul Bova plays the Italian lover and should make most women weak in the knees, but I found Vincent Riotta, the real estate agent, to be a much richer character. And speaking of rich characters, Lindsay Duncan plays a wonderful eccentric as Katherine who almost serves as a fairy godmother.
Although the acting is surpurb, what brings it all together are the talents of Audrey Wells who serves as the screenplay writer, director and producer. Most of Audrey's background has been in writing. This is only her second film as a director, yet you wouldn't know it by watching the film. Clearly Ms. Wells has a love of Italy and a love of the novel and all of that shows on the screen. She filmed in the cities that are represented and she hired actors that are the nationality in which they play and the age in which they should be. The entire films shines with authenticity and coupled with wonderful performances and directing, Audrey has redefined the romantic comedy.
This movie was refreshing, witty, poetic, dramatic and rich with characters that you not only like, but identify with. It was such a breath of fresh air that I'm ready to see it again and again.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 8, 2003
This is simply one of the best examples ever of a genre I like to call "kissy-face," nothing negative implied!
There comes a time when you just want to see a film where there is no violence, no blood, no horror, no significant meaning--just pure, decadent entertainment. That's what "Under the Tuscan Sun" is like--a wonderful box of chocolates where every chocolate is your favorite flavor. Some call this genre "chick flicks"--so be it.
The story is pure, simple fluff, and not even original at that. Diane Lane (perfect in the role) plays a scorned woman, not too young, but far from old, who purchases a broken-down villa in Tuscany, Italy, on pure whim. Does it make sense? No! Is it perfectly believable? Yes! As she sets out to save the villa from utter ruin and turn it into a liveable residence, she finds herself involved with a crazy group of Polish emigrants, who not only speak poor English, but poor Italian as well. They have been hired to remodel the villa.
Then there's a crazy but fabulous real estate woman who fancies herself a character in a Fellini movie--and then some. Our heroine has definitely bitten off more than she can chew, but at least she doesn't have much time to think of the cad back home who dumped her. So does she find true love and live happily ever after? I won't tell you, but the lush, gorgeous, breathtaking panorama of Tuscany is worth the price of the movie no matter what the plot--and the plot is just icing on the cake.
It isn't "smart," it isn't intellectual, it doesn't have much of a plot, it makes no sense at all--but "Under the Tuscan Sun" is just perfect.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2004
The imagery in this movie is fantastic (obviously, since it was filmed in Tuscany), however I can't really recommend anything else about it. For some reason the writers of this film strayed so far from the original story as penned by Frances Maye that it is almost a completely different story. Which is sad, by the way, because the true story is so charming and would have been superb on film. Frances Maye's book, Under the Tuscan Sun, is the true story of how she and her husband Ed buy a run-down villa in Tuscany. The book recounts the adventures Frances and Ed have together while remodeling the house. Other than the part about buying a house in Tuscany, there's really not much else in the movie that even comes close to the book. Ed doesn't even appear in the film until literally the last three minutes. Instead of a happily married and successful writer, Maye is portrayed as a depressed divorcee who is only able to come out of her funk after having a one-night stand with a suave Italian named Marcello (what were you people thinking?). And for some strange reason, there's this bizarre homosexual motif that runs through the entire first half-hour of the movie. Why in the world did the writers have Frances discover the villa on a gay romantic tour of Italy, when the real story would have been so much better? I guess my advice to you is read the book, skip the movie. Or better yet, read the book then go and see A Year in Provence, which is much better.
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