Under the Tuscan Sun (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

June 29, 2012 by  

If you are a fan of this 2003 film or just wanting a beautiful, delightful romantic comedy on Blu-ray that is not so much focused on a relationship but more about one woman coming off a long relationship and starting over in a foreign country, then definitely give “Under the Tuscan Sun” a try!

Images courtesy of © 2012 Buena Vista Home Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Under the Tusan Sun


DURATION: 113 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:85:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French 5.1 and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital, Subtitles:English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: Touchstone Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13 (For Sexual Content and Language)

Release Date: July 3, 2012

Directed by Audrey Wells

Based on the Book “Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy” by Frances Mayes

Screen Story/Screenplay by Audrey Wells

Produced by Tom Sternberg, Audrey Wells

Executive PRoducer: Laura Fattori, Mark Gill, Jon Goldman, Sandy Kroopf

Associate Producer: Katie DiMento, Edoardo Petti

Music by Christophe Beck

Cinematography by Geoffrey Simpson

Edited by Arthur Coburn, Andrew Marcus, Todd E. Miller

Casting by John Brace, Beatrice Kruger, Linda Lowy

Production Design by Stephen McCabe

Art Direction by Franco Fumagalli, Gianni Giovagnoni

Set Decoration by Nick Evans, Mauro Passi, Cinzia Sleiter

Costume Design by Nicoletta Ercole


Diane Lane as Frances

Sandra Oh as Patti

Lindsay Duncan as Katherine

Raoul Bova as Marcello

Vincent Riotta as Martini

Mario Monicelli as Old Man with Flowers

Roberto Nobile as Placido

Anita Zagaria as Fiorella

Evelina Gori as Nona Cardinale

Giulia Steigerwalt as Chiara

Pawel Szajda as Pawel

Sasa Vulicevic as Zbignew

Massimo Sarchielli as Nino

Claudia Gerini as Signora Raguzzi

Laura Pestillini as Contessa

David Sutcliffe as Ed

Kate Walsh as Grace

Experience the inspiring romantic comedy starring Academy Award nominee Diane Lane (Best Actress, 2002, Unfaithful) for the first time on Blu-ray, featuring an all-new digital restoration with enhanced picture and sound.

Based on the #1 New York Times best-selling book, Under The Tuscan Sun follows San Francisco writer Frances Mayes (Lane) on a ten-day trip to Tuscany. Once there, she is captivated by the beautiful Italian countryside, and impulsively buys an aging, but charming villa. Fully embracing new friends and local color, Frances finds herself immersed in a life-changing adventure filled with enough unexpected surprises, laughter, and romance to restore her new home – and her belief in second chances. Enjoy every breathtaking moment in stunning Blu-ray high definition.

American author Frances Mayes, was best known for published poetry work and also being the Professor of Creative Writing, director of the Poetry Center and chair of the Department of Creative Writing at San Francisco University.

But in 1996, Frances would release her memoir, “Under the Tuscan Sun”, based on her experience of purchasing an abandoned villa in rural Cortona in Tuscany, Italy.  The memoir was a success and was number one on the New York Times Best Sellers list for over two years.

The memoir would eventually receive a film adaptation in 2003 courtesy of filmmaker/writer Audrey Wells (“George of the Jungle”, “Shall We Dance?”, “The Game Plan”).  And the film would star actress Diane Lane (“The Perfect Storm”, “Unfaithful”, “Jumper”), Sandra Oh (“Grey’s Anatomy”, “Sideways”, “Hard Candy”), Lindsay Duncan (“Alice in Wonderland”, “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace”) and Vincent Riotta (“The Dark Knight”, “Revolver”, “Heaven”), plus a cameo from one of Italian’s legendary filmmakers Mario Monicelli.

Having been released on DVD back in 2003, “Under the Tuscan Sun” will now be released on Blu-ray in July 2012.

“Under the Tuscan Sun” revolves around writer Frances Mayes (as portrayed by Diane Lane), a San Francisco writer who thinks she has lived a perfect life until she discovers her husband has been cheating on her.  Divorced and depressed about her life, losing her home to her husband and now living in a noisy apartment with other sad and depressed divorcees, her best friend Patti (as portrayed by Sandra Oh), a lesbian is pregnant and gives her plane ticket for Tuscany, Italy to Frances.

Arriving in the small town of Cortona, while walking through the stores, she notices a villa for sale.  She asked by an eccentric British woman named Katherine (as portrayed by Lindsay Duncan) if she will be purchasing the villa for sale but Frances tells her that she is just in Cortona on vacation.

But as she is riding on the tour bus, she sees the villa and leaves the tour group to check out the villa and it’s not in the greatest shape but tired of her life in America and just wanting to get away from her troubles, she decides to purchase the villa and take a new step towards her new life.

And with her new life, she becomes good friends with her Real Estate agent Martini (as portrayed by Vincent Riotta), she hires a crew of Polish immigrants to fix up her house and tries to live her new life in Italy by learning a little of the language, learning to cook and making new friends.  But also wanting to meet a new man and start a new relationship.

But before Frances can do that, she needs to go on a path of self-discovery and heal from her divorce before she can start over.  And perhaps her time in Tuscan will heal her broken heart.


“Under the Tuscan Sun” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:85:1).  A major positive about “Under the Tuscan Sun” is the location of where the film is shot in Italy is absolutely beautiful.  Cinematographer Geoffrey Simpson  (“Fried Green Tomatoes”, “Little Women”, “Shine”) did a wonderful job of capturing the beauty of Italy through this film.  Colors are vibrant during the outdoor scenes, closeups feature detail on the faces of the talent, black levels are nice and deep and much better clarity of this film on Blu-ray vs. its DVD counterpart.

I detected no artifacts, banding or any problems while viewing this film.  If anything, fans of “Under the Tuscan Sun” will enjoy the HD transfer of this film.


“Under the Tuscan Sun” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital.  For a romantic comedy, dialogue is crystal clear and while there is some music, the film is primarily dialogue driven coming through the front and center channels.  But the surround channels are used.  Quite effectively during the storm sequence and also for ambiance, especially during scenes with a larger crowd.  Overall, the lossless soundtrack for “Under the Tuscan Sun” was good and quite appropriate for a romantic comedy.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, French and Spanish.


“Under the Tuscan Sun” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with director Audrey Wells.  Wells talks about the film adaptation of “Under the Tuscan Sun”, working with the talent and crew, shooting in various locations in Italy plus the costume and set design.
  • Tuscany 101 Making of Featurette – (9:26) Featuring interviews with filmmaker Audrey Wells, author Frances Mayes and the cast regarding the “Under the Tuscan Sun”.
  • Deleted Scenes – (2:31) Featuring three deleted scenes.

For any adult who has been married and then finding themselves divorced, especially after their 40’s, it’s a frightening experience.

It’s one thing to start over from scratch, when you are younger but when you are older, you just never know what is out there, whether you still have what it takes to get into a new relationship but mostly the fear of starting over.

What I enjoyed about “Under the Tuscan Sun” is the fact that it’s based on the real-life memoir of Frances Mayes and that Diane Keaton would play the character with efficacy.

A romantic comedy shot in a beautiful location, “Under the Tuscan Sun” is a movie that many divorcees can relate to (ore those who have ended a long relationship with their partner), because these are issues that many people face.  The difference is that not many people get the opportunity to escape to Italy or another country.

So, watching the film, you can’t help but laugh and be delighted by the character of Frances Mayes, as she tries to find her way in Italy.  Yes, she is aware about Italian men (and we see many scenes with Italian men trying to get her attention), especially the number of Italian men who are attracted to Frances, but yet are married.  It’s a different culture than America but it’s quite fascinating to see it all happen in Italy and see how the character of Frances manages to learn about herself through the people she meets and dates.

But there is no doubt that the film is quite irresistible due to its location.  From the beautiful buildings to the local merchants, to seeing Katherine (Lindsay Duncan) being a bit La Dolce Vitta or to see Frances Mayes learning to cook Italian food and preparing it for her Polish workers.  Suffice to say, it’s a fun film with plenty of enjoyable supporting actors.

“Grey’s Anatomy” actress Sandra Oh stars alongside then fellow “Grey’s Anatomy” co-star Kate Walsh as a lesbian couple expecting a baby.  Pawel Szajda as Pawel, the Polish immigrant who has fallen for the Italian Chiara (as portrayed by Giulia Steigerwalt).  Two y0ung people who have fallen in love but whether or not her parents would support their relationship because he is Polish (and has no major job).

The acting performance was well-done but Diane Lane absolutely shined in this film and was delightful to watch in this film!

As for the Blu-ray release, the video quality is an upgrade over the DVD release.  Lossless audio definitely sounds great via the surround channels, may it be the storm sequence or crowd ambiance, “Under the Tuscan Sun” looks and sounds great via HD.  As for special features, it’s pretty much the same special features on the original DVD – audio commentary, deleted Scenes and a short making-of featurette.

But overall, “Under the Tuscan Sun” was a fun romantic comedy.  Granted, there is no major male co-star to go along with Diane Lane, but that’s perfectly fine.  This whole film is about a divorcee starting over with her life and learning more about herself and the fact that the world is not going to end.  And no matter how scary life can be at this new chapter in a divorcee’s life, you move forward and keep living your life.

If you are a fan of this 2003 film or just wanting a beautiful, delightful romantic comedy on Blu-ray that is not so much focused on a relationship but more about one woman coming off a long relationship and starting over in a foreign country, then definitely give “Under the Tuscan Sun” a try!

General Disclaimer:

J!-ENT has not received any compensation from the company for this post. J!-ENT has no material connection to the brands, products, or services that are mentioned in this post.

For Product Reviews:

For product reviews, J!-ENT has purchased the above product for review purposes or may have received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free by the company which in no way affects our reviews, may it be positive or negative. We only recommend products or services we have tested/reviewed and believe will be good for our readers.

For Advertising:

Some of the links in our posts are "affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, J!-ENT will receive an affiliate commission.

J!-ENT is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”