Time: 113 mins.
SYNOPSIS: While on vacation, a just-divorced writer buys a villa in Tuscany on a whim, hoping it will be the start of a change for the better in her life.
BOTTOM LINE: Writer Frances Mayes had to be thrilled when she learned that the lovely Diane Lane would be starring in the big screen adaptation of her bestselling novel. Part travelogue, part autobiography, TUSCAN SUN is the story of Mayes life after her unexpected and bitter divorce. In an effort to forget the past, Frances takes a trip to Italy, falls in love with Tuscany and never looks back.
The film chronicles her new future as she tries to renovate her impulsively purchased, centuries-old Tuscan villa with little money and no understanding of the local language, rules or customs. She makes a few friends, mostly with her work crew, and quickly discovers that altering your surroundings is much easier than changing yourself. What makes the film work, besides Lane's luminous presence and the beauty of the location, is that Frances doesn't always get what she wants, but eventually finds what she needs and a place where she can be happy once again.
Her misadventures are often sad, as well as funny, though Lane makes sure you never feel sorry for Frances. She's not the strongest of people, but she refuses to waste another day of her life being unhappy, which I'm sure is easier to do in Italy than in America, though still a message we can all relate to. Despite the gorgeous visuals, the film doesn't quite capture the Italian spirit the way the book does, but newbies to the tale won't notice.
This is a fairly decent adaptation of a fun and spirited story, most women will enjoy, especially since it centers on a female character with, shall we say, some life experience. In the end, the idea of the film is more tantalizing than the reality, however, Lane's pitch perfect performance and the locale makes this film a pleasant way to pass the time. To get the true experience read the novel, which will truly transport you into life in Italy.