Review: Made in Italy
Maggie John finds beauty in the latest Liam Neeson vehicle, Made in Italy
James D’Arcy’s directorial debut, Made in Italy, stars Liam Neeson (Robert) and his son Micheál Richardson (Jack), who play a father and son duo. Jack is forced to either give up his job or buy the gallery he manages off his wife’s family. He chooses the latter and decides the way to do it is to sell their family home in Italy, which has been pretty much left alone since Robert’s wife and Jack’s mother died. Their relationship is in a similarly bad condition to the house and requires work, too. Not only does the film explore their relationship, but a parallel, blossoming love story.
The four of the main characters, Jack, Robert, Natalia (Valeria Bilello) and Kate (Lindsay Duncan) are each experiencing some form of grief, which along with familial relationships, are the most powerful themes throughout the film. The fact that they are all experiencing different variations of grief emphasises not only the complexity of the issue, but the universality of the emotion. This is incredibly important and not something I have often seen portrayed in films in such a raw manner. However, in an interview with ET Canada, Neeson explained how the film was more about “connecting and reconnecting,” rather than specifically grieving.
the concept of memory and its connection to emotions is explored throughout the film
Firstly, when discussing Made in Italy, there is no escaping the strength of Neeson and Richardson’s performances. It is incredibly raw, and their emotions are powerfully visible. Neeson’s wife and Richardson’s mother, actress Natasha Richardson, died after a skiing accident in March 2009. Their experience of losing a wife and a mother is evident throughout the film and the truth of their relationship and experience is impressive.
Furthermore, I really enjoyed the cinematography throughout the film. I appreciated the small details, such as a close-up shot of the car wheel turning and the dust it creates. In my opinion, these small details emphasise real life and perhaps the mundanity of things we don’t even notice but are consistently happening around us. It also serves as a pleasant reminder of a pre-pandemic life: being able to travel and to eat in a bustling restaurant, listening to live music.
There are some truly funny moments throughout the film. My favourite comedic moment was encouraged through the language barrier and the description of a weasel-esque animal as a “rat baguette”. I also appreciated the way in which the concept of memory and its connection to emotions is explored throughout the film, particularly through the medium of objects and art.
I really enjoyed the simplicity of this film and the depth of its themes. It was an enjoyable and thought-provoking watch and I highly recommend it.