Movie Review
Under the Tuscan Sun
Tuscan Sun poster
By Greg Ward     Published October 10, 2003
US Release: September 26, 2003

Directed by: Audrey Wells
Starring: Diane Lane , Raoul Bova , Sandra Oh , Vincent Riotta

Running Time: 113 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $43,602,000
The kind of film that you want to give a big hug ? it is very inspirational and shows us that we shouldn't take life for granted.
In life, some of us get second chances. There is an expression that goes like this: "If we fall, we must get back up and try again." In "Under the Tuscan Sun," Frances Meyes does just that, and her story is told beautifully.

Mayes (Diane Lane) is a writer whose life has just taken a turn for the worst ? she is going through a divorce and at the same time has some awful writer's block. Her best friend Patti (Sandra Oh) is beginning to worry that Frances will never recover, so she sends her on the gay tour of Tuscany that she and her lover were going to go on.

While on the tour, Frances spots a rundown villa for sale and decides to buy it. At first, she has no idea what she has gotten into, but eventually she is able to get the house restored and finds a fresh new look on life, including love and a new family.

"Under The Tuscan Sun" is the kind of film that you want to give a big hug ? it is very inspirational and shows us that we shouldn't take life for granted. If we have a chance to do something, even if it's crazy and somewhat impulsive, then we should take that chance. When Frances gets off the bus to try and purchase the villa, she knows what she has done is crazy yet she feels as if she has no other choice.

Frances needs to turn her life around and start anew; she feels that if she doesn't take this chance, she has nothing left. She is the kind of movie character that can be truly admired because of how ambitious she is ? she can even serve as somewhat of a role model for future films in which heroines must pick up the pieces of their life after it seemingly has fallen apart.

Based on Frances Mayes's memoir of the same name, "Tuscan Sun" is a sharp and witty film thanks to the writing by Audrey Wells ? she allows the audience to get to know the characters better and relate to them. We feel as if we know the characters as lifelong friends, as if we are going through their situations with them. The dialogue is fresh, with one-liners that are funny and moments of emotion that actually make the audience sympathetic to the characters in the story.

Take the moment in the film where Patti first arrives in Tuscany: her lover has left her, and to top it all off, she's also pregnant ? she is crushed, confining in Frances to help her. Within this scene, there is true human emotion. In other movies, this scene might be incredibly sappy and maybe even unbelievable.

"Tuscan Sun," however, shows the true value of friendship amidst this scene and makes it as believable as it can be. Movies like these usually have dialogue that seems cheesy and unrealistic, but the writing for "Tuscan Sun" is the exact opposite, providing a true sense of human emotion that is easy for the audience to spot.

The cinematography in the film is extraordinary ? seeing this film makes me want to take a trip to Tuscany because of how truly beautiful it looks. The scenery allows the film to have more of a lasting impact on the audience ? we see what Frances sees everyday as she wakes up, sucking in the beauty that surrounds her when she looks off of the balcony to the new day that has begun. Various shots of a sunny Tuscany also help to distinguish a joyful mood for the film. Some may think that Tuscany is beautiful, but through the use of its gorgeous cinematography, "Tuscan Sun" proves it.

Diane Lane is extremely charming and likable as Frances Mayes ? it is as if she becomes the character, going through the same situations Mayes did in real life. Part of this is because Diane Lane is so likable no matter what role she plays, as there is a certain charm that she brings to each character that makes it so easy to watch her.

When you watch Diane Lane, it is somewhat different than watching any other actress because she seems so real ? she is a classic beauty, someone who stands for what is real in today's society. She isn't phony like other women in Hollywood, but she is simply herself: beautiful, charming, and an extremely talented actress who is up for whatever acting challenge is offered to her.

Here Lane plays a character that has to pick up the pieces of her life and start anew, doing this in a very convincing manner. We, as the audience, are convinced that she is not playing a character. Instead, we see that she has literally become the character, displaying the emotions Frances Mayes might have shown in real life when all of this was really happening to her.

"Under The Tuscan Sun" is the kind of film for people who have gone through some tough times but have gotten though them with some positive aspect coming out of it. I found this film to be extremely inspirational because it makes you want to do something different with your life, something you never expected to do. If we all took chances like Frances Mayes, maybe our life would be a little more exciting.
Greg's Grade: B+
Greg's Overall Grading: 25 graded movies
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'Tuscan Sun' Articles
  • Stephen's review C+
    September 14, 2003    May not be the best of films to satisfy [Lane's] talent, but by no means squanders it -- Stephen Lucas