Under the Tuscan Sun

This adaptation of Frances Mayes' best seller gets two stars for two reasons: star Diane Lane, who is loveliness incarnate, and the Italian scenery, which isn't so bad either. Otherwise, those allergic to chick flicks are hereby warned. How did Mayes' literary travelogue — complete with recipes, lyrical descriptions of peach marmalade and the how-to of renovating a Tuscan villa with her husband — become the sudsy story of Frances (Lane), the heartbroken divorcee from San Francisco looking for love in sunny Italy? Hollywood, that's how. Director Audrey Wells loads a cliched plot on Mayes' lighter-than-air memoir. That includes Marcello (Raoul Bova), her Italian-hunk lover; Patti (the hilarious Sandra Oh), her pregnant lesbian friend; and countless cutesy handymen. Why go on? Just soak up that Tuscan sun and wonder when Lane will get another movie, like Unfaithful or A Walk on the Moon, that will let her really shine.

From The Archives Issue 359: December 24, 1981