Audrey Wells' adaptation of Frances Mayes' best-selling travel memoir "feels lifted from a dog-eared Mills & Boon". That's despite the screen presence of Diane Lane, who was, at the time, hot property after securing an Oscar nomination for her role in Unfaithful. This whimsical yarn, about a divorcée who relocates to a rundown villa in Tuscany, scored significantly less well with critics and audiences.
A Lot Of Bologne
According to Diane Lane - in the featurette Tuscany 101 - Under The Tuscan Sun "shares something that is very deep". In fact you may feel that something stirring very deep in the pit of your stomach as she and writer-director Audrey Wells waffle on about their "internal adventure story" with Oprah-esque pretension. Oh, and in case you didn't figure it out, the rundown villa is a metaphor for the emotional being of Lane's character...
Only Italian thesp Raoul Bova hits the nail on the head, suggesting that the appeal of this movie lies in its idyllic rural setting: "We have'a the beautiful'a place, the beautiful'a people, beautiful'a food, flowers an'a sun - what more can you ask for life?" Italians, eh?
Wells tones down the pseudo-feminist blather for her audio commentary, which she clearly prepared for in painstaking detail. She never allows for pregnant pauses, speaking articulately about the development of the characters and the ways in which her version of the story differs from the source material. Mayes' book was focused on the importance of food in Italian culture, but Wells had different ideas: "I decided early on that I wasn't interested in making a great movie," quickly adding, "about cooking."
The Valley Runs Deep
The three deleted scenes shamelessly revel in stereotypes of rural Italians - consider the opera-singing contractor or the parade of 'colourful' locals in the Clapper Montage. Thankfully the Easter Egg featurette (located in the left flowerpot of the special feature menu) redeems this mostly bland package with the funniest explanation of visual effects ever committed to silvery disc.
The story goes that the movie received an R rating for containing male nudity, but since Wells was contractually bound to deliver a PG-13 film, the visual effects supervisor had to design a pair of CG underpants for the cheeky Zeues. Aforementioned VE bod talks us through the scene, in its various stages of production, with more innuendo than a Carry On film. Problems included getting the underpants to ripple correctly over the bare flesh because, we're told, "All kinds of muscles are flexing in those underpants." He ends on a palpable note of mortification, confessing, "I spent quite a few hours studying Zeues' butt." It was all for the best, though, with Zeues' butt just about saving Under The Tuscan Sun from slipping through the crack(s) on DVD.