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‘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,

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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

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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

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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.

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

language.


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