MADE IN ITALY – Review by Susan Granger

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In this gentle, heartwarming father/son drama, Liam Neeson plays a widower/artist who returns to Italy with his estranged son (Micheal Richardson, his real-life son) to sell his late wife’s villa in rural Tuscany.

Reclusive Robert (Neeson), a talented painter, feels frustrated – wallowing in a creative vacuum – while Jack (Richardson) is desperately trying to raise money to buy the London art gallery he’s curated for years from his soon-to-be-divorced wife’s family.

They’re stunned to discover that the once-magnificent villa is in very, very bad shape after being deserted for the past 20 years – much to the consternation of sharp-tongued real estate agent Kate (Lindsay Duncan), an ex-pat who offers to help them sell it.

Before long, however, they’ve enlisted local help for the necessary renovations, as Jack falls for vivacious Natalia (Valeria Bilello), a single mom/chef who has transformed her tiny, quaint trattoria into a gastronomical delight. Problem is: Natalia’s jealous ex-husband won’t go away since he has shared custody of their young daughter.

Quarreling while working to restore the rundown villa to its original splendor, father and son open up to one another about their mutual sorrow and begin to mend their frayed emotional ties with forgiveness.

As a first-time director, British writer/actor James D’Arcy (Avengers: Endgame) subtly draws on the real-life resemblance and relationship between Liam Neeson and Micheal (pronounced Me-hall) Richardson, whose mother, Natasha Richardson, died in a 2009 skiing accident in Quebec.

Real-life widower Liam Neeson knows the challenge of bereavement: “I think you can start over again, but it doesn’t mean you forget what happened. You have to put it in its place: lock it away somewhere. We’ve all been hit with hardship …and it’s important to go into it, put it in its place and movie on.”

FYI: Liam Neeson and Micheal Richardson also played father & son in Cold Pursuit (2019).

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Made in Italy” is a sincerely captivating 7, filled with the scenic splendor of the idyllic Tuscan countryside.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.