An uptight corporate book editor flies from London to a small town in Tuscany
with the mission of enlisting a reclusive Salinger-style former writer to end
two decades of literary abstinence. While the city boy is in Italy:
* The simple and warm people of Tuscany melt the editor's frosty uptight
* The editor learns much about writing from the crusty old writer, enough
to rediscover his own desire to write.
* The editor also learns much about life from the legendary writer. The
two men form a relationship very similar to that of the lusty Zorba and the shy Basil in Zorba the Greek, so similar in fact that the two
men even have a variation on the "teach me to dance" scene. In
another classic Zorbaesque scene, the lusty writer offers to sign the contract if the
uptight editor will kiss his ass in a crowded cafe.
* The writer (Keitel) also has a really smokin'-hot daughter (Claire
Forlani) and the handsome young editor (Joshua Jackson) predictably falls in
love with her.
* The writer eventually rediscovers what he had lost from his own life.
* The editor eventually rediscovers what he had lost from his own life as
well. And I don't just mean his artistic sense of abandon, or his writing talent,
or the love he had been missing. He also becomes part of a new family and a
new community, develops a better system of hair care, discovers the Fountain of Youth and
a cure for cancer,
and finally locates both Judge Crater and Amelia Earhart, who are living in
the same modest Tuscan village.
As you have undoubtedly already determined, this script manages to
incorporate just about every possible arty chick-flick
cliché. It's Under the Tuscan Sun meets Winter Passing meets Zorba the Greek. As if all that weren't phony enough, the hot daughter speaks with an
Italian accent that would embarrass John Cleese. Mind you, she has been raised
by one parent - an American - for the past twenty years, so she would be very
unlikely to have any accent at all while speaking English. That alone should have
been enough to dissuade the director from allowing the character to speak
broken English, but he certainly should have put his foot down and stopped it when he heard Forlani
essay the dialect.
If the elements above actually appeal to you, or at least fail to scare you
off, the film's execution is not
bad. Keitel is lovably dotty. Joshua Jackson is sympathetic, likeable and
handsome. Claire Forlani is drop-dead gorgeous. You've seen it all before and you're probably heard every line of
dialogue and seen every set piece in other, better movies, but it's filmed and
performed with heart by pros, so the story will find an appreciative audience
among those with a taste for more sentimental movies, especially among younger
women. (It is currently rated 9.7 by females under 18 at IMDb, and I am going
to give my copy to my niece! I'm pretty sure she will love it.)
Whether is is your kind of movie or not, you do NOT want the Region 1 DVD,
which is some kind of Disneyfied version of the original movie, which was
called The Shadow Dancer. The film has been truncated, censored, and cropped!
First matter: it has been formed into a TV-friendly aspect ratio through
pan-n-scan cropping. The original theatrical aspect ratio was 2.35:1. The DVD
version is presented in a 4:3 TV version. That is, as you might imagine, a
very big difference.