review for Under the Tuscan Sun on AllMovie

Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)
by Brian J. Dillard review

This overall thrust of this chick flick doesn't stray far from formula, but the filmmakers fill Under the Tuscan Sun with enough smart casting and unorthodox flourishes to keep things interesting far longer than they might have. Hollywood vet and Oscar nominee Diane Lane has earned the right to rest on her laurels; for her, that means letting her innate charm and screen charisma do most of the work and summoning up the odd moment of actual acting chops only on the rare occasion in which the script requires it. In smaller roles, Sandra Oh and Lindsay Duncan get to have lots more fun, Oh as a snarky lesbian sidekick and Duncan as an eccentric, over-50 actress with the appetite of a woman half her age. As far as the plot goes, the elliptical happy ending is implicit in the premise, but writer/director Audrey Wells makes sure her characters earn it -- even if that means the third act drags on into a fourth one. Luckily, cinematographer Geoffrey Simpson makes the most of every gorgeous moment even when the story begins to sag. A well-crafted, picturesque romantic comedy isn't exactly a hard sell in Hollywood, but Under the Tuscan Sun surpasses the genre's requirements more often than it settles for them.