‘Made In Italy’ is a charming father-son adventure
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‘Made In Italy’ is a charming father-son adventure

Liam Neeson and his real-life son Micheál Richardson are the heart of this film set in sunny Tuscany

​Liam Neeson (right) as "Robert" and Michaél Richardson as "Jack" in James D'Arcy's "Made In Italy." The father-son duo share a moment and press their foreheads together.
Courtesy of IFC Films

With such a heart-warming father-son story, it feels like this movie should have premiered around Father's Day.

Drama-Comedy "Made In Italy" is actor James D'Arcy's feature film directorial and writing debut, and he makes a solid landing with Liam Neeson and his IRL son, Micheál Richardson.

Art gallery director Jack (Richardson) has poured his blood, sweat and tears into his passion for art. But he's going through a divorce, and his soon-to-be ex-wife coldly demands to have the rights to the art gallery that she bought from her parents. Desperate to gather money to buy the gallery from her, Jack contacts his father Robert (Neeson), a Bohemian artist from London who can't seem to remember the name of the women he's sleeping with.

The estranged pair travel to Tuscany where they plan to quickly sell the house they inherited from Jack's late mom. After some awkward conversations in the car, they make it to Italy only to find the house in shambles with cobwebs filling every nook, broken shingles and doors and dust caking every surface within the old villa's walls.

Made in Italy - Official Trailer I HD I IFC Filmswww.youtube.com

As they plan to renovate, they look for guidance from locals including Kate (Lindsay Duncan), a bold ex-pat who sells villas, and Natalia (Valeria Bilello), a young Italian chef who captures Jack's heart. As the father-son duo repair the house, they fix their relationship, too.

As expected, Neeson and Richardson are the heart of the film. Viewers can't help but feel the personal emotions that they flood into the film because of their real-life loss of wife and mother Natasha Richardson in 2009. Though the acting is a bit campy at times for Neeson's talent, his character's charm manages to eek out any awkward moments.

Honestly the story could've been perfectly fine without the romance and stood on its own as a story about father and son learning to reconnect after a tragic loss, even if Bilello was as charming as Neeson's Robert.

The movie is promoted as a comedy, but its comedic moments are very subtle yet effective. In one scene, the characters are celebrating a local Italian man's birthday. Robert notices a lady is sad and he tries to cheer her up by drawing a portrait of her as the lights hit her silhouette just right, but it turns out he draws a simple stick figure that any kid can draw. Knowing he's an artist, it's a cute moment that shows how charming the character is and how the films plays on audience expectations.

However, when it comes to audience expectations, viewers are likely correct when it comes to set design and aesthetics. Of course any story that takes place in a beautiful sunny Italian countryside needs to have wine, spaghetti and colorful locals. In a way it benefits the feel-good movie because it's exactly what viewers probably want if they choose to watch this film. But it's also tiring to see another film focus its aesthetic on the standard stereotypes. At least the creators knew their audience.

Despite its minor flaws, viewers will want to give their parents a hug or pick up the phone after watching "Made In Italy."

Score: 8/10

"Made In Italy" is available on VOD platforms* starting Friday, August 7.

Contact the reporter on Twitter at @s_incorvaia.

*Digital Platforms: iTunes, Amazon, GooglePlay, YouTube, Vudu, PlayStation, Xbox

Cable Platforms: Comcast Xfinity, Spectrum (Charter, Time Warner, Brighthouse), Verizon Fios, Altice (Optimum), Cox, DirecTV, AT&T, Bend Broadband, Buckeye, Guadalupe Valley, Hotwire Communications, Metrocast, Suddenlink, WOW Internet Cable, RCN, Midcontinent Communications

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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