Up at the Villa | Chicago Reader

Up at the Villa

This parable set in Florence in 1938 contrasts the smugness and ennui of some British and American expatriates with the desperation of an Austrian refugee. But the plot is more convenient than intriguing, the characters more cartoonish than iconic—especially the heroine, who grapples with feminism in a way that should have been fascinating. Kristin Scott Thomas plays a widow considering a marriage proposal that will mean security if not love, but then romantic meddler Anne Bancroft introduces her to Sean Penn, who's not entirely available. Unable to choose adventure over complacency, the widow suppresses her attraction to him, which leads to an instructive tragedy. Philip Haas directed this 2000 feature, which was based on a novella by W. Somerset Maugham. PG-13, 115 min.

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