February 11, 2004

A Little Sun Bathing

4976.jpgIt may seem strange to those novel adaptation purist out there, but Under The Tuscan Sun, released on DVD last week, actually benefits as a movie by not sticking to the book its story is based upon. Cinecultist read the memoir/cookbook by Frances Mayes of the same name while on vacation in Tuscany a few years ago and it was fun to read her descriptions of the village of Cortona, the foods she cooked and the seasons changing in the countryside while there. But it's one of those seemingly unadaptable books, with no real story line just musings and impressions and recipes.

Fortunately here, filmmaker Audrey Wells creates her own story from the loose premise of Mayes's life -- that she moved to Tuscany and renovated a villa there -- and casts the delightful Diane Lane to be Frances, a divorcee trying to create a new life for herself in Italy. Another highlight of the film is the performance by Sandra Oh, who brings texture and nuance to the role of Frances's pregnant lesbian best friend. But the real star of the film is the Italian countryside with its fields of poppies and sunflowers and the picturesque villages clinging to the Amalfi Coast. We hope you won't mind if Cinecultist takes a few weeks off to ride a vespa through Positano sipping red wine and be romanced by a smooth Italian we meet on the street in Rome. If Diane Lane gets to do it, its only fair we all get the chance, no?

Posted by karen at February 11, 2004 8:14 AM