This hugely personal melodrama with starring roles for Liam Neeson and his son Michael Richardson has a potentially important filmmaking lesson within its failure. It stars Neeson and Richardson as an estranged father and son who. Through a series of events, they end up reconnecting and bonding whilst renovating a Tuscan Villa. This takes place decades after the families mother figure died in a car crash decade The film is hugely autobiographical for Neeson and his son following the tragic passing of Neeson’s wife Natasha Richardson in 2009. It would be easy to call the film a vanity project. This critic doesn’t think that’s entirely fair. Vanity projects are typically made with a degree of contempt for the audience. Nothing more than a very self-centred narrative, put together by someone more concerned with how they are portrayed. This is not the case here. Neeson and his son are pouring their heart and soul into delivering strong emotion-driven performances. Actor turned director James Darcy has a good eye for some effective location porn. There is plenty of aesthetically pleasing tourist like shots of Tuscan Hills and valleys.
Creative teems always have a choice as to how earnest one chooses to play very trope centric material. If the people involved do nothing or interest in the tropes beyond playing them exceedingly straight there’s a certain ceiling of quality your piece of media won’t exceed. This is incredibly obvious early on with the film. Events play out as a very typical father/ son narrative. It becomes even more unavoidable when Richardson’s character meets an Italian girl. The second act plays out all the beats of burgeoning romance without missing a cliche trick. If viewers know anything about this style of media the ending should be painfully obvious
Made in Italy is the most frustrating kind of bad film. the good intentions, personal elements and raw emotion of the lead performances are put to bear on-screen by Neeson and Richardson. The final product is still an extremely trite and manipulative melodrama. There’s nothing new or original here the audiences will not have seen before no matter how earnest the delivery. Liam Neeson superfans or those that have a soft spot for this style portrayed on-screen might get something out of it. Given the decidedly middling final product, it’s not hard to see why Lionsgate sold the film to Amazon Prime. It holds the same fate as many of their exclusive premieres. Getting lost in the maelstrom of constantly updating streaming releases.5/10.