Review by John P. Harvey
A famous painter, Robert (Liam Neeson), and his young son, Jack (Neeson’s real-life son, Micheál Richardson, who acted with Neeson in Cold Pursuit also), long ago left the Italian villa they jointly inherited when their respective wife and mother, Raffaella (Helena Antonio: Arrivederci Rosa), suddenly died. But, needing the money in order to buy the gallery that he has been running as a career, Jack talks his father into selling their once-stylish Italian villa, which they have let run down.
Jack and Robert, whose relationship has been distant for years, now face a mammoth task in making the villa habitable again, but with encouragement by their straight-talking estate agent, Ruth (Lindsay Duncan: About Time; Gifted) and inspiration courtesy of young local restaurateuse Natalia (Valeria Bilello: One Chance; Ignorance Is Bliss), they set about it — but reach a crisis when Jack discovers what his father has kept from him since his childhood.
Made in Italy holds up — despite having minor love-interest mismatching, few plot surprises, and a clunky romantic scene — chiefly because the emotions that Neeson and Richardson bring to bear on their on-screen interactions are undeniably powerful. Possibly the power of their interactions comes from their characters’ family history’s mirroring their own loss in real life. Either way, their on-screen reconciliation, marking a high point in the progress of a long-fraught relationship, is what chiefly makes the movie worth while, though the timelessly sumptuous views it offers of the Italian countryside only add to its appeal.