‘Sun’ shines brightly on all levels

Kathleen Marcellino of Burbank is a retired property manager.

Loosely based on Frances Mayes’ best-selling memoir of the same

name, “Under the Tuscan Sun” is extraordinarily pleasurable to look

at, like a beautifully drawn and wonderfully composed work of art,


taking us on a flight of fancy with tenderly and shrewdly conceived

characters on board.

Diane Lane’s performance as Frances, a San Francisco author who

discovers her husband is cheating on her, is complex, touching and


sensitive. When divorce leaves Frances suffering from depression and

writer’s block, her best friend, Patti (Sandra Oh), gives her a free

ticket on a gay tour to the Tuscan region of Italy: “So nobody will

hit on you,” she says, reassuringly.

Frances packs her bags and travels to the tranquil and

picture-postcard-perfect town of Cortona, nestled in the unsurpassed

beauty of Tuscany, and almost immediately makes an offer on a little

villa that needs a lot of work. Trouble is, the contessa who owns it


will sell only if she gets a sign from God: A pigeon duly dive-bombs

Frances, and the deal is sealed.

What follows is pure and beautifully crafted escapism, as Frances

and a group of illegal Polish workers transform the villa into a home

of which even Martha Stewart would be proud. Along the way, Frances

does find romance with the hunky Marcello (Raoul Bova). But that’s

not the point of this movie; Frances finds love, but more

importantly, a new, fulfilling, life.


* “Under the Tuscan Sun” is rated PG-13 for sexual content and