story begins at a celebration for a new author's book, a former student (Elden
Henson) of a novelist, teacher, book reviewer by the name of Francis Mayes (Diane
Lane). At this moment in time, Francis is happily married to a novelist named
Tom and lives in a Victorian house, which they restored with the money Francis
received from her mother's estate. The guests are enjoying refreshments at the
reception, including Francis' killer brownies, when turmoil raises its ugly head.
A revengeful novelist (Don McManus) bitterly resents a negative review that Francis
wrote on his book, he then finds a nasty way to tell her about her beloved Tom's
Francis sits in a fog in her lawyer's office, she finds out that her husband,
Tom, was having a love affair with a young college student and had the gall to
ask for alimony, as Francis had been supporting him while he was supposed to be
writing his novel.
a year of living in a depressing apartment building with other depressed divorced
people, Francis is still in pain and has been suffering from writer's block. Then
her friends, Patti (Sandra Oh) and Patti's gay partner, invite Francis out to
dinner to mark the one year anniversary of her divorce and then announce that
Patti is expecting a baby (via artificial insemination) in May, and that they
exchanged their coach tickets to get Francis a first class ticket to Italy and
she can also take their place a 'Gay and Away' bus tour of Tuscany.
doesn't say yes right away, but after thinking about Patti's "You are at a crossroads"
speech, and being fed up with banging on the wall to her crying and depressed
neighbor (one too many times), she finds herself agreeing to come over to Patti's
later. Francis decides to do it, this changes her life as she finds herself going
down a path she never imagined before living her drab life in San Francisco.
the bus deposits her tour group in the town square of Cortena, a small town in
the middle of Tuscany, Francis finds the 'market day' taking place, a place full
of life. She meets interesting people like Katherine (Lindsay Duncan), and finds
the place comforting and hopeful. She finds herself looking at the real estate
ads posted on the window of a brokerage office, and sees a villa for sale, in
need of some TLC. Something she loves to do is fix up old houses.
the help of her mentors, Martini, Katherine and her friend Patti, Francis finds
that her personal life, her dreams and her needs are rebuilt in different ways
than imagined and she finds fulfillment as she renovates her villa, and expands
her life experiences with everyone around her.
Wells wrote the screenplay, directed and produced this beautifully filmed, romantic
and humorous feel-good film. All is brought to life by a dynamite cast led by
Diane Lane, a very convincing Francis, who carries the story and easily brings
a tremendous amount of talent to the silver screen.
winning stage actress, Lindsay Duncan does a fabulous job portraying the eccentric
actress, Katherine, who got her start as a youth in Fellini's films.
Riotta was very convincing as the kindhearted real estate agent, Martini. He turns
out to be a great friend to Francis, while guiding her with tidbits of wisdom.
Oh is delightful as Patti, Francis' gay friend, who gave her the ticket in the
first place. She later goes to stay with Francis when life sends her a rather
the handsome Raoul Bova did a nice job playing Francis' weekend Italian boyfriend.