Under The Tuscan Sun

Movie Review by Anita Kasonkomona

Starring: Diane Lane, Raoul Bova, Sandra Oh, Vincent Riotta, Dan Bucatinsky, Lindsay Duncan

Director: Audrey Wells

“True, we love life, not because we are used to living, but because we are used to loving. There is always some madness in love, but there is also always some reason in madness…” Friedrich Nietzche.

Life is forever evolving. We all occasionally stumble upon crossroads, where we have to make crucial life decisions that will help us move forward in some way. These decisions are more often than not, based on a major life event that can be absolutely transformative for some. In this case, when San Francisco writer, Frances Mayes (Diane Lane) suddenly finds herself divorced and feeling hopelessly lost, she sinks into a depression, having no idea about the turn her life is about to make.

Her friend Patti (Sandra Oh) comes to the rescue when she offers Frances a gift that she hopes will brighten her spirits: a ten day trip to Tuscany in the heart of Italy. As she’s touring round the Italian countryside, something very profound captures her attention, a run down villa named “Bramasole”- literally “something that yearns for the sun”. She becomes enchanted with this house and impulsively, decides to buy it, unaware that she is fulfilling part of her destiny.

As she roams around looking at the house, there is an Italian couple that are also very keen to buy it at the full asking price. However, the old lady who owns it suddenly doubles the price because she feels that the couple don’t understand its profundity. Frances offers to buy the house but cannot afford to pay the full asking price.

The old lady sadly refuses, then just before Frances walks out a pigeon excretes on her face, the old lady shrieks delightedly in Italian, “It’s a sign!” and Frances is offered the house. This is a significant scene because of the way the director depicts chance encounters and synchronicities. Thus Frances Mayes begins a new life as she embraces the local ways and devotes herself to the restoration of her new home. She finds herself forming close bonds with the people around her and rediscovers the pleasures of laughter, friendship and romance.

The plot takes another twist, when, again by chance, she meets a very handsome and charming young man. He invites her to visit his town two hours away from Tuscany, which she reluctantly accepts. The director (Audrey Wells) takes us into the unfathomable, out of this world, esoteric scenery of the beautiful Italian coastline. In a kissing scene, the sunset accentuates the romantic atmosphere. But when Frances believes that she has rediscovered love, she finds herself yet again heart broken, after she finds her lover with somebody else. When the couple break up, the director uses symbolism from the scenery to dramatise the heartfelt pain of breaking up. This is created by the use of juxtaposition between the scenery and the subjects. In this case I would suggest that the cliffs dramatically portray the end of a relationship, as the cliffs denote the end of land.

One of the major themes throughout the movie is opportunities for second chances which is summed up by the quote “No matter what happens, always keep your childish innocence, it’s the most important thing”.

5 out of 6 stars

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