What’s the story?
Jack Foster, a bohemian artist, struggles as he divorces his wife, Ruth. When she tells him that she plans to sell his beloved art gallery, Jack decides to sell his old Italian home to pay for the gallery. The problem is, the Italian house’s ownership is split between him and his estranged father, Robert. They agree to sell the house and go to Italy to find a buyer.
The house is terribly rundown, and an estate agent tells them that they have to renovate the place if they hope to sell it any time soon. Jack and Robert’s relationship is put to the test as they work together to fix the house, a place that brings back some bitter memories of Robert’s late wife.
As they work on the dilapidated house, Jack decides that they’re going to need a little help if they hope to repair the many problems of the property. They hire some locals, and things finally seem to go right for father and son. Among the locals is Natalia, a young woman who quickly develops a relationship with Jack.
Robert and Jack realize that the work they’re doing on the house isn’t just to repair an old property but to mend their own father-son relationship. Jack must learn that money isn’t the only thing that matters, and that ideas and memories hold a higher value in the minds of some.
Is it any good?
Many filmgoers are used to seeing Liam Neeson starring in action-packed blockbusters, so it was a nice change of pace to see him in a smaller drama-comedy flick. Even more interesting is the casting of Jack, played by Neeson’s real-life son, Micheál Richardson. The result of such casting is that Neeson and Richardson have great on-screen chemistry, and their roles as father-son are as real as they can be.
The main characters and their relationship certainly are the film’s strong suit, but that means that, sadly, it falters in almost everything else. The plot leans a little on the weak side of things, as do some of the gags. The decision to make the movie a drama-comedy might do the story a disservice at times, as it is clear that most of the jokes just don’t land.
At the core of things in the film, there’s the lovely story of the relationship between a father and his son. The film’s focus on the value of forgiveness and compassion is a lesson that works very well with today’s estranged society; a reminder that forgiveness and empathy are the perfect way to build bridges among our relationships.
Made in Italy is an enjoyable movie that doesn’t overstay its welcome. It’s a breath of fresh air to see Liam Neeson away from any gun, as he proves that he’s more than capable of delivering a convincing dramatic performance.
Despite the film’s many shortcomings, the focused plot and charming characters power through much of the low points of the flick. It also helps that the runtime is kept under two hours; it’s become increasingly common for movies to get longer and longer, ending in a diffuse story being stretched thin.
All in all, Made in Italy manages to deliver a nice tale of reconciliation and fraternity that will resonate with many audiences. Its weak plot is mended by the chemistry between Neeson and his son, even if the rest of the cast isn’t as noteworthy. Definitely consider giving Made in Italy a chance if you’re looking for some light entertainment, especially if you’re willing to overlook the flick’s flaws and focus on its decidedly marked strengths.