“Made in Italy” (M) ** and a half
THE cost of engaging Irish-born Liam Neeson to act in a movie has been known to reach eight significant digits.
We in Australia know him only by his movies. In Britain and the US, he’s a stage actor as much as he is one whose movie castings (133 credits) are as ready to use his gravelly voice just as a narrator as much as his 193-centimetre height.
In “Made In Italy”, he plays Robert, an artist whose painting career is stalled and whose spirit is depressed. His son Jack (played by his real-life son Micheal Richardson from his late wife Natasha Richardson) owns a London art gallery in partnership with a wife in a loveless marriage. Jack would like to buy her out. Sale of the family home in Tuscany will provide the necessary capital.
That house has not been occupied for two decades. It needs renovation big time. So Jack takes his father along to help prepare it for the sale.
That’s the narrative framework for this film that doesn’t match its often lovely visuals with the dramatic cohesion that it needs, deserves but doesn’t always get. That’s the reason for only two stars.
Writer/director James D’Arcy pals Jack up with Natalia (Valeria Bilello) in a relationship that as soon as we meet her we know will end as it does. Robert still mourns a wife who died in a road accident when Jack was a child. Her place in his life is taken cautiously by real-estate agent Kate whose function in the story is less than actress Lindsay Duncan deserves but as up close and friendly as Robert needs.
I’ve no idea how much Neeson charged to play Robert. Or how much the whole movie cost to make. After its opening week in the US, its cumulative worldwide gross takings totalled $US176,498. I didn’t think it was that rancid.
At Dendy, Palace Electric and Hoyts Belconnen