Life is full of curve balls.
In Made in Italy, written and directed by James D’Arcy, Jack Foster’s curve balls are his wife wanting a divorce and her family selling the art gallery that he manages, which would force him to say goodbye to a job that he is quite passionate about.
To prevent him from losing his ‘dream job’, Jack, played by Micheál Richardson, decides to reunite with his estranged father Robert, played by Richardson’s real-life father Liam Neeson. Together, they attempt to sell the old house where they once lived in Tuscany, Italy. What follows are awkward exchanges, heartbreaking misunderstandings, a rekindled relationship, surprising new friendships, all tied up in a neat little bow and accompanied with the beautiful views of central Italy.
I was curious to check out Made in Italy not for the storyline itself nor specifically for Liam Neeson (although I have yet to see him in a bad film). But the reason I had wanted to watch Made in Italy the most, was for the concept of travelling to central Italy without ever needing to leave my cinema seat. With the global pandemic causing much havoc for life and businesses everywhere, and with the international borders closed here in Australia as well, I have felt the greatest desire to travel overseas, but can’t. Made in Italy is the next best thing. The film doesn’t hold back, whenever it is given the opportunity to showcase its pristine Italian landscapes.
To me, the heart wrenching, emotional story was a bonus. James D’Arcy’s flawless writing will make you laugh, make you cry and will touch your heart. These emotions are intensified with the performances of father-son duo Liam Neeson and Micheál Richardson. Prior to seeing this film, I had no idea that the pair, who had worked together previously in Cold Pursuit, were really father and son. Their on-screen chemistry together is undeniable and incredibly convincing. Although I can imagine it may have been easy to build that dynamic on-screen, considering their real-life relationship, I can’t deny their talents and moving performances in this feature. Every single time Richardson and Neeson would exchange words on-screen as their characters Jack and Robert, you could tell that what they were saying was more than words alone. Their body language and their facial expressions spoke volumes.
At times, Made in Italy would sneak up on you and remind you that it is also a comedy. There are cheeky lines inserted here and there throughout the film, but they never feel out of place. Sometimes, the comedy isn’t projected with words, but with the way scenes are captured. My favourite scene, for one, consists of the characters merely eating a bowl of pasta. But it is the way that this scene is cleverly displayed that ignites the hilarity.
I found myself completely captivated by Jack and Robert’s story and the beautiful sceneries of Italy. Made in Italy has a consistent flowing plot that keeps you entranced and interested, but does so with ease. It has been a while since a film has made me both cackle until my sides hurt and sob immensely, and I loved it. Not only do I highly recommend seeing this film, but admittedly I am inspired by it to travel to regional Italy. And hopefully I can soon, someday.