Tea With Mussolini/B,B+
A small movie with striking production
values, Tea with Mussolini makes the most of period detail.
Saturated in the radiance of remembrance, the autobiographical
tale of movie director Franco Zeffirelli
is set during the rise of Italian Fascism and culminates
with the departure of the Germans from Italy toward the end of
World War II.
as Elsa remembers Luca. ©MGM
with Mussolini is driven by
characters and setting. the film. The ex-patriot ladies of Florence
tolerate the imperious Lady Hester who proudly refers to her late
husband the ambassador at every opportunity. She's accepted, through
protocol, as the social leader of these ladies. Then there's
Arabella and her precious dog and a sensibly cynical outlook on
life, and Georgie, the American woman trying hard at looking like a
man The big event of the title, the tea with Il Dulce, is rather
mundane and brief and almost exists to confirm the title. I would
almost have like the film better if there were a mystery about
whether the tea ever took place. It would have been a layer of
dramatic interest missing..
gives an excellent flashy performance as Elsa, a wealthy expatriate
American living the high life with such intensity that she lights up
the life of those around her, despite their jealousies. The
performances are beautifully modulated in Tea with Mussolini,
from the dour and forthright Joan Plowright playing Mary to the
eccentric Judi Dench enjoying every moment of Arabella. Maggie Smith
is Lady Hester and Lily Tomlin prances about as Georgie. I like the
youngsters who play Zeffirelli at different ages. They are both
charming and effective and play well against the ladies.
photography is gorgeous, the Florence settings ripe with old world
charm, and the music embraces the warm memory of the past. Director Zeffirelli does a nice job of making the pace of the film energetic
fit within the confines of the world of Tea with Mussolini.
lives up to the lushness of Tea with Mussolini's photography.
Color saturation is brilliant with a delicate palette realized with
accuracy. Overall, the transfer is quite sharp and the warm lighting
preserves the film's nostalgic mood. Music and ambient details are
recorded with precision on Dolby Digital 5:1 surround.
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