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Under The Tuscan Sun (DVD) Review
Based on the book by Frances Mayes, Under The Tuscan Sun is a refreshing fish out of water romantic comedy. After taking a much needed vacation, a recently divorced writer buys a home in Tuscany on a whim, hoping the new home will jump start her journey to newfound happiness. Most likely to be categorized in the 'chick flick' realm, Under The Tuscan Sun follows the life of one woman as she interacts with friends, lovers, and new neighbors in an exotic and beautiful environment. The film portrays all the emotions - the ups and downs, the hopes and dreams - experienced by the main character as she takes on this monumental and spontaneous adventure. In short, Under The Tuscan Sun is an interesting, and oftentimes hilarious, film that tackles the constant travails of life in general�
Thirty-something San Francisco writer Frances (Diane Lane) spirals into a deep depression when her ten-year marriage ends in divorce. To further complicate matters, she lives in a cramped apartment, and the stress of her divorce has left her with writer's block. Her good friend Patti (Sandra Oh), happily pregnant and involved in her own committed relationship, tries to cheer up Frances. But nothing seems to work - at least until a vacation is suggested.
When Frances sets off on a tour of Italy, she unexpectedly gets off the bus and purchases a villa in Tuscany. Hundreds of years old and in disrepair, the home is in dire need of massive renovations. Frances devotes her new life to restoring the home, and she hires a ragtag band of immigrants and local people to help her. Meanwhile, she attempts to find love in her new country, but the harder she tries, the worse off things turn out. When Patti's lesbian lover leaves, she moves to Tuscany for the moral support offered by Frances. Now, Patti must give birth to a new life, and Frances must learn that the best rewards in life arrive when least expected�
Sideways star Sandra Oh makes a name for herself playing the role of Patti, a good friend of Frances. Despite her appearance in a dozen plus films, Under The Tuscan Sun is the first time I can recall seeing Sandra Oh in a movie, and I can remember that she really made an impression. She has a distinctive onscreen presence, something unique that I can't quite identify, and perhaps this contributes in some small way to the current success she's experiencing.
Meanwhile, Diane Lane creates a likeable and relatable character in Frances. Viewers will have no problem relating to divorcee's struggles within her personal life, and even the most pessimistic and dour of movie goers must give her credit for making such a bold move. As such, Under The Tuscan Sun manages to create one of those rare films which isn't so much plot-driven, nor focused on the personality of a monumental life. The film simply serves as a good night's entertainment (and a break, if one is needed, from the typical big money, high body count Hollywood productions). That's why Under The Tuscan Sun is a definite must-see film.
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