Liam Neeson stars opposite his real-life son in this cordial dramedy that luxuriates in a ridiculously idyllic – albeit probably accurate – depiction of Tuscany.
Switching out his gun for a paintbrush after spending the last decade as a violent action hero, Neeson plays Robert, a once-promising artist whose career stalled following the death of his Italian wife 15 years earlier.
When his estranged son, Jack (played by Micheal Richardson, Neeson's son with late wife Natasha Richardson), suddenly needs money to purchase the London art gallery he manages, the pair head to Tuscany to sell the villa where they lived until Jack's mother passed.
Although in a picturesque locale, the villa has long since fallen into disrepair, and as they attempt to get it into shape for sale, unresolved feelings are stirred up between father and son. Meanwhile, Jack gets to know local restaurateur Natalia (Valeria Bilello).
While there are exactly zero surprises in how the story plays out, Made In Italy remains an enjoyable watch throughout, thanks to an appealing cast and a gorgeous, charming setting. Indeed, large sections feel like a tourism video promoting the region, but Tuscany comes across so well in the film, this isn't really much of an issue.
Richardson is good enough to negate any notions of nepotism in his casting, and Neeson reminds us how good he can be when inhabiting a mellower character who doesn't kill everyone he encounters. The paternal friction between the two feels authentic, even if the drama is undeniably informed by how aspects of the story reflect their real-life experience.
New Zealand audiences tend to lap up tourist-friendly travelogue films along these lines, and although there's nothing especially remarkable happening here, it's difficult to imagine anyone being disappointed by the sun-kissed pleasures this offers.
Cast: Liam Neeson, Lindsay Duncan, Micheal Richardson
Director: James D'Arcy
Running time: 90 minutes
Rating: M (Offensive language)
Verdict: A superlatively pleasant cinematic excursion to Tuscany.