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Made in Italy: A Charming Exploration of Grief, Love, and Home Renovation

August 12, 2020

Made in Italy is a charming film that tells the story of a father and son reconnecting after the death of their wife/mother. Shot in the beautiful Tuscan region of Italy, and starring the real-life father/son combo of Liam Neeson and Micheal Richardson, the film is a low-key exploration of grief, love and home renovation. Directed and written by first-time feature film director James D’Arcy (Dunkirk, Cloud Atlas, or Agent Carter) Made in Italy is supremely earnest and is made of really good bones. If you are looking for a heartfelt film that is oddly being accused of “feel-goodism,” Made in Italy is worth a watch.

The film tells the story of Jack, a recently-divorced twentysomething renovating his family’s Tuscan villa so he can sell it, and buy an art gallery from his ex-wife (her parent’s own the place, and want to sell it). To do this, he recruits his dad Jack (Liam Neeson), a successful painter who owns 50% of the home. Initially, the two argue, bicker and lie to each other as they figure out how to clean up the rundown home. But, as they make more progress, the two start bonding with the help of the local townsfolk and restaurant owner Natalia (Valeria Billelo). It all leads to a warm ending that feels earned, and genuine because of the real-life tragedy the Neeson’s endured.

Cinematographer Mike Eley (My Cousin Rachel, Touching the Void) does a fine job capturing the claustrophobic and grey vibe of London as the two men are dealing with personal lows in their lives. But, when the two enter the sunkissed Tuscan Valley, the visual palette expands and the shots and vistas become quite beautiful (I want to live there). Whether it’s the sprawling hills, or the way the food looks, Eley and D’Arcy clearly wanted to create a mythical vibe to the proceedings.

Neeson and Richardson are both solid, and it’s fun watching the father and son combo acting together onscreen. It’s impossible to know the sadness they felt in 2009, but, watching them seemingly reconnect after 11 years is touching. Also, It’s nice watching Neeson not destroy folks, because he’s an excellent actor who puts in good work in non-action murderous films (Think Schindler’s List, Love Actually or Silence).

If you are a fan of earnest film that tug at the heartstrings, I totally recommend Made in Italy.

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