Under the Tuscan Sun

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Under the Tuscan Sun Movie Poster Image
Book-based romance has sex, drinking, language.
  • PG-13
  • 2003
  • 113 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 3 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie's main message is that engaging in life brings opportunities for new experiences, second chances, and recovery from even devastating wounds of the heart. It also promotes the ida that trusting yourself in new placesand sometimes making unexpected choices can be beautiful and rewarding.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Frances is able to find inner strength after a difficult rejection. She learns to be self-reliant and to accept the fact that life has both disappointments as well as wonderful surprises. The movie refrains from obvious stereotyping.

Violence

A loud, threatening storm and the startling appearance of a harmless snake frighten the main character.

Sex

Some partial nudity in several scenes: An eccentric woman wearing only a strategically placed feather boa poses for a semi-nude artist; a couple engaged in passionate sexual foreplay begin to undress; a teen couple is seen briefly partly hidden by bedding while in the throes of lovemaking. The main character’s proposal of a sexual liaison with a new acquaintance is followed by non-graphic sequences of foreplay and post-sexual romantic behavior.

Language

Language includes words like “bastard,” “dyke,” “hell,” "damn," “s--t,” “f--k,” and “ass.”

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink wine and some liqueurs on many occasions, particularly at meals and in social situations. In one scene, an intoxicated woman cavorts in a fountain. Several European characters smoke cigarettes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this story of grown-up entanglements and expectations isn't too likely to engage kids or teens. A few scenes include partial nudity; others depict sexual foreplay, passionate kissing, embracing, and playful post-sexual behavior. Language includes one use of “f--k,” several forms of “s--t,” and a few other words. Not surprisingly for a movie set in Italy, the characters enjoy wine freely (mostly while eating), and background characters occasionally smoke cigarettes. The supporting cast includes a number of gay and lesbian characters, including the main character's best friend; happily, the movie avoids many Hollywood stereotypes when it comes to these characters.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byrocha72 April 9, 2008
Adult Written byhandshake April 9, 2008

a great movie for everyone

I just saw the movie yesterday and it's a wonderful story about love for all ages...its shows the uncertainty of love, the many kinds of love, the emotiona... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bymoviegeek April 9, 2008

Just plain hilarious and wonderful

I may be biased because I love Diane Lane movies, but this movie was great. The Tuscan villa is absolutely beautiful at the end and everything just sort of work... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old March 9, 2011

The best traveling movie out there

If you want to see a good traveling movie, check out this one. It's soooo much better than Eat Pray Love and the messages are more positive.

What's the story?

After her divorce, Frances Mayes (Diane Lane) agrees to take a tour of Tuscany when her best friend Patti (Sandra Oh) buys her a ticket. Frances isn't looking for romantic entanglements. But she ends up with an entanglement of a different kind, impulsively buying an ancient house called Bramasole, which translates into "yearning for the sun." And yes, it is Frances who is yearning for the sun, and yes, the renovation of the house is a metaphor for renovating her spirits. On this emotional journey, she will meet kind souls who will impart life lessons. A free-spirited Englishwoman, a kind local realtor, and three Polish construction workers help her get ready to enter back into life again, and a charming Italian man helps her begin by reminding her that she is capable of loving and being loved. Frances makes a wish for a wedding and a family in the house and when at first it seems that the wedding and the family are not the ones she wished for, she begins to understand that they really are just what she wanted. And she learns that she can help others who yearn for the sun, healing herself at the same time.

Is it any good?

Like the crumbling Italian villa at the center of the story, there’s a lot wrong with this film, but it’s so enticing -- especially for its intended audience -- that it’s hard to resist. The best-selling book by Frances Mayes about her restoration of a crumbling villa is beautifully written and wonderfully evocative, but it does not have much of a story. So writer/director Audrey Wells has taken the real Mayes, and thrown a lot of plot at her.

The problem is that director/screenwriter Wells tells us a lot more than she shows us. She seems to have no understanding of how to translate a story into film. The movie often seems abrupt and unfinished and the characters are superficially drawn. The script tells us how the characters feel about each other but does not make it matter enough for us to believe in or care about the way their relationships are resolved. Lane brings as much to the material as is humanly possible, but is given little to do beyond looking wistful and wounded. But it is all beguilingly pretty to watch and its message of hope and second chances is beguilingly pretty, too.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about all of the advice that Frances gets. What does she learn from it?

  • How does the movie depict sex? How does that compare to depictions in other movies?

Movie details

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