Tuesday, 17 November 2009

My House in Umbria

Lowdown: Terrorism survivors heal together in Italian tranquility.
My House in Umbria is a TV film from 2003 sporting a high quality cast. Set in Italy, it tells the tale of a group of a very diverse and international group of people that are brought together through a single life changing experience: They all shared a train cabin when a terrorist’s bomb went off and killed/injured most of the cabin’s population with the slight exception of a young American girl that came unharmed but lost her parents.
The survivors get out of hospital but they cannot go home as the Italian police is still investigating the bombing and requires their availability. So an old writer of trash romance books, Maggie Smith, invites them all to her place in Umbria (apparently, an exotic location in Italy). There the survivors all find that their unity brings back the good taste for life as they spend their days idling with the locals. And that good taste helps them forgive and heal of their emotional wounds.
What promises to be a good film about Italian sense of ease compared to “our” hectic way of life is ruined when the resting & recuperating characters are shaken upon the arrival of Chris Cooper, the American girl’s only relative. He comes to pick her up to his home in the USA, but should he do it or should he leave the girl with her new found family of survivors instead, with whom she seems more at home? After all, Cooper is a scientist, and as such – according to My House in Umbria – he has to be dry, devoid of emotions, and completely inadequate at taking proper care of the girl. Or any other human being, for that matter.
This assumption, together with a plot that’s driven by Smith's dreams and unsubstantiated notions, ruin what could have been a very promising film.
Best scene: Smith and Cooper walk the less travelled path through the backstreets of Sienna, an old style Italian town. Certainly made me want to go there!
Overall: What a waste of a promising cast and a stellar setting! 2 out of 5 stars.

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