The Past Is Always Present

Made In Italy
Stars: Liam Neeson, Micheal Richardson, Valeria Bilello and Lindsay Duncan
Director/Scriptwriter: James D’Arcy
Composer: Alex Belcher
Cinematographer:  Mike Eley
Rating: R
Running Length: 120 Minutes 

Liam Neeson is currently known for action films.  Who would have thought that in later years of a film career, the action hero (“Cold Pursuit” and “Taken” series) would reign.  Now, Neeson, who is 68, has taken on the role of a man who lost his wife in a tragic accident (which Neeson actually did in real life, actress Natasha Richardson). In the film, the past is always there to haunt one, and those who should be close to you, just aren’t.  Why?  Such is the tale of Jack Foster (Micheal Richardson, Liam Neeson’s own son and they were also together in “Cold Pursuit”) and Jack’s father, Robert (Neeson.) Talk about a story close to home. 

We find that Jack is about to be divorced from Ruth and they are in the art business.  Her family owns an art gallery that they want to sell, but Jack wants it, instead, and is trying to get financing for this venture. Enter a beautiful house in Tuscany, Italy, that Jack co-owns with his father, Robert. Eventually, they go to evaluate with the help of a real estate agent, Kate (Lindsay Duncan from “A Discovery of Witches” TV series)) Should repairs be made or not?  Arguments go on every day until ultimatums are tossed at each other.  Robert had been a painter before the death of his wife and now doesn’t paint. What is in the middle are the memories of Jack’s late mother, Neither Jack nor Robert have resolved this.  Decisions must be made.  In the meantime, Jack meets Natalia (Valeria Bilello from television’s “Love, Inevitably”) who owns a small restaurant and is arguing with an ex-husband.  Should Jack and Robert stay and repair, or sell and go? In the meantime, can people adjust to each other? Or are stone wall opinions and hidden memories in place forever.

Having father and son work together was a good call. Liam Neeson and Micheal Richardson play off each other well and this adds a touch of warmth to the dialogue. This could come from any family situation. Outsiders are there, but it still centers on a family, what was, what is now and what could be in the future. Choices must be made and in haste? Or patiently? Not only with oneself, but in remodeling an old house.  Decide whether to keep the old emotions and feed on them, or break away and go into the sunshine. Tough decisions. 

This story is played against the beautiful landscape of Tuscany, which could otherwise be named “Leisurely Vacation.” Nothing is done in haste. The sun is always shining. There are moments of humor---and who can't start remodeling a house without something happening. Then, there are times of emotion. Grief is difficult to get past and sometimes, it lingers for years before being confronted.  There is a natural feeling between Jack and Robert.  It is their film, with issues to resolve, and the rest of the cast is on the periphery.  If you can’t travel to Italy this year, “Made In Italy” can be your stay-at-home choice.



Copyright 2020 Marie Asner