Monday, May 17, 2010

More widescreen scenery

When I mentioned Boy on a Dolphin, I mentioned that one of the things it has going for it is some lovely scenery in widescreen and color. Another middling movie with a similar visual advantage is Light in the Piazza, airing overnight tonight at 2:15 AM ET on TCM.

Olivia de Havilland stars as Meg Johnson, who is in Florence, Italy with her adult daughter Clara (Yvette Mimieux). Despite being physically an adult, Clara has diminished mental capabilities due to a brain injury she suffered as a child. She's grown up to be beautiful, somebody the men would love to have, but Meg is worried that the men might take advantage of Clara. And then, they meet Fabrizio (George Hamilton). He sees Clara, and fairly quickly falls in love with her, seemingly not minding Clara's childlike impulsiveness one bit. Will Fabrizio and Clara live happily ever after, or will her mental impairment ultimately separate them?

Complicating matters is Clara's father (Barry Sullivan). He and Meg have been disagreeing pretty substantially on what the best course of action is for Clara. He's over in the States working, and thinks that Meg's been taking Clara abroad not just to shelter her from American men, but to shelter her from the wide world in general. He and Meg aren't getting young, and eventually they won't be able to take care of Clara any longer. So it's better to expect that there's no hope for further improvement from Clara, and put her in a facility where they can look after her better. So, it's no surprise that, once Clara falls in love with Fabrizio, her Daddy shows up to try to bring her back to America, away from Fabrizio.

Light in the Piazza is a movie that has a relatively pedestrian storyline, in that the plot conflicts were predictable, and I didn't care much for what happened to the characters. The acting is adequate, but nothing special. However, the movie does have location shooting going for it. The movie was filmed in Florence and Rome, two highly photogenic cities. (The young Mimieux and Hamilton were also photogenic, but that's another story.) It's tough to go wrong photographing either location, and that along makes Light in the Piazza worth watching at least once. Unfortunately, it's not currently available on DVD, so you'll have to catch a TCM showing.

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