MADE IN ITALY – NO, IT’S NOT ABOUT THE MAFIA

With the exception of Christopher Nolan’s TENET, there’s Nary a blockbuster in site for the ravaged release calendar of 2020. It’s looking like the final half of 2020 may shape up to be “The Year Of The Indies”. Usually we can’t get Ehab to shut up in his reviews, but it seems this one just missed the mark for him. I have to admit, sadly the aggregate reviews on Metacritic agree with him.

MADE IN ITALY is rated M, runs for 93mins and is released by our friends at Madman Films. It’s playing in select cinemas now. Enjoy Kernel Ehab’s Review.
– Kernel Claire

Dancing In The Sunset in MADE IN ITALY

BY EHAB RASHED

INITIAL THOUGHTS:

Anyone who’s familiar with the Italian Mafia knows that the term “Made” means that you’ve become an official member of the family known as Cosa Nostro. So when I saw the title of this flick and read the name Liam Neeson (TAKEN, COLD PURSUIT) in the cast, I was expecting violence infused scenery-chewing by one of the worlds biggest stars and greatest actors. What I got was a moody melodrama about a father and son trying to reconnect…and unfortunately it’s a snooze-fest. 

SYNOPSIS:

A bohemian London artist (Neeson) returns to Italy with his estranged son played by Micheál Richardson (VOX LUX, BIG DOGS)  to make a quick sale of the house they inherited from his late wife.

Liam Neeson and Micheál Richardson in MADE IN ITALY

LUSH SCENERY ISN’T ENOUGH:

First, let’s get this out of the way. Our main character here is played by Micheál Richardson – the real life son of Liam Neeson. I didn’t know this while I watched the flick, but it made all kinds of sense when I eventually found out. The whole time I’m saying to myself, how did they get Liam Neeson for this relatively small and underwhelming role?  Ohhhhhh!! We’ll cast this son in the main role and entice him along. I’m assuming this, by the way. No one will ever know why Liam spent time making this tripe when I’m sure TAKEN 4 – THIS TIME THEY TOOK HIS DOG would have been a WAY better use of his time and talents.

But I can’t be all the way dismissive of actor turned first time writer/director James D’Arcy’s (CLOUD ATLAS, DUNKIRK) effort. I’m a sucker for father/son stories (the end of ARMAGEDDON still swells my eye……..shut up it’s good!!). 

The movie was shot on-location in the Tuscany countryside of Monticchiello in the Pienza municipality of the Val d’Orcia, and even though the director really heaps on the scenery, it is beautiful to see. There are moments of genuine emotion, but the slogs of picturesque cinematography coupled with a very generic script doesn’t serve the movie well. It seldom reaches the levels you would hope for. Especially considering that Neeson really is great at commanding attention and owning the screen when he’s on it. 

PACING AND TIMING:

The first ten minutes felt like thirty as I was waiting for something to happen. Anything at all to keep me engaged. I got my hopes up when a Britishly dry, no-nonsense real estate agent shows up, but that was just a tease. The rest of the cast is just lacklustre – especially Richardson. Sorry Neeson Jnr but you don’t have the presence or range of your dad. But don’t feel too bad, you’re standing in a giant’s shadow. 

The plot is predictable and the pacing is awful. Some scenes go way too long and others try to land with oomph, but the writing is just too A.B.C. nothing original or memorable.  It’s been some time since Neeson has delivered a truly powerful dramatic performance. Not since 2004’s KINSEY if I’m being honest. He became enamoured with the action movie world and why not…..he’s great for it! 

But I was quietly hoping to see him put on a raw performance, because the essence of MADE IN ITALY is a heartfelt story about family and tragedy. It’s just not executed well enough. 
I was hoping for a steak but was served a salad. 

Diner Times in MADE IN ITALY

WE’RE IN ITALY!! SURELY WE CAN AT LEAST GET A DECENT MEAL :

Though seldom, the film’s high points come when we’re immersed in the culture and wonder of the Tuscan backdrop. The quaint eatery with amazing risotto made by the criminally enticing restaurant owner was where the film felt real to me. The main praise I have is for actress Valeria Bilello (SENS8, CURON). She’s a genuine breath of fresh air that’s direly needed. Her smile and charm are quick to disarm you and you fall for her right away (as did both Father and Son…..not cool, Dad) 

Inspecting The Real Estate in MADE IN ITALY

FATHERS AND SONS :

Knowing that the duo on screen are actually real life father and son does add to the drama of the movie in a strange way. Learning this afterwards had me look at the film’s finale in a different light. 
While it still lacks gravitas, it does make you wonder how they both felt as actors when they delivered the film’s finale. The only problem is that we have a heavyweight sparring with an amatuer in an arena created by a novice. There was so much potential here that just wasn’t realised. 

Twilight Talks in MADE IN ITALY

THOROUGHLY FORGETTABLE :

If you want a movie where your mind will wander so you can think about your taxes, or your lack of commitment to your gardening then this one is for you! 
If you want a little more substance in your viewing, give this a pass.

KERNEL EHAB’S POP SCORE:

YOUR CRITIC:

Ehab Rashed is a part time freelancer and full time movie tragic and dog dad. If he’s not making his Netflix account overheat you can find him at the movies, a dog park, contemplating the life meaning in “The Big Lebowski”, photographing landscapes or working Tarantino quotes into everyday conversations. You can find him and his dog bumming around on insta @chubbz4lyf 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.