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Tea With Mussolini (Widescreen/Full Screen) [Import]

Maggie Smith , Judi Dench , Franco Zeffirelli    PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)   DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
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Tea With Mussolini Tea With Mussolini 4.3 out of 5 stars (55)
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Tea With Mussolini (Widescreen/Full Screen) [Import] + Ladies in Lavender (Parfum de lavande) (Bilingual) + My House in Umbria (Bilingual)
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In filming this semi-autobiographical account of life in Italy during the dawn of World War II, director Franco Zeffirelli imbues Tea with Mussolini with the mixed blessings of fond reminiscence. It's a warmly inviting film, as impeccable as any Merchant-Ivory production, but like a hazy memory it's uncertain in its narrative intentions. And yet with an exceptional cast to compensate, the film's as engaging as it is inconsequential.

Zeffirelli's alter ego is Luca (Charlie Lucas in youth; Baird Wallace as a teenager), who is raised in Florence by Mary (Joan Plowright), the middle-aged secretary of his absentee father. Luca lives among a loose band of British and American women, nicknamed "Il Scorpioni" for their stinging wit in the shadows of Mussolini's thuggish dictatorship. Along with Mary there's Hester (Maggie Smith), a crusty ambassador's widow; Arabella (Judi Dench), a lively bohemian; lesbian archaeologist Georgie (Lily Tomlin); and Elsa (Cher), a flamboyant American who quietly finances Luca's education.

Il Scorpioni witness the rise of fascism and the dangers of resistance, weathering dictatorial custody and (in Elsa's case) falling prey to heartbreaking betrayal. But Tea with Mussolini carries little dramatic weight; you have to forgive its unfocused structure to appreciate its merits. Zeffirelli gently conveys the passage from pleasantry to wartime, and he's drawn uniformly fine performances from this seasoned cast. If the film is vaguely unsatisfying, it's only because it had the makings of greatness and settles instead for an ethereal quality of anecdotal enchantment. --Jeff Shannon

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Director and writer Franco Zeffirelli - with the assistance of veteran writer John Mortimer - gives a coming of age film a cutting edge. Tea with Mussolini is a mixture of warm and chilly memories.
It has impeccable production values and the footage of tuscany alone is worth the price of ticket, but there is much more going on.
Zeffirelli's charcter is Luca - first played by Charlie Lucas in youth; and Baird Wallace when older. I liked the subtle reference to Romeo and Juliet that he was later to direct.
He is abandoned by his useless father who pays for an education and wants to forget about him. He is raised in Florence by Mary (Joan Plowright), the middle-aged secretary of his father but is basically shared among a band of British and American women, who adore Italian art.
A cast features Maggie Smith as the impossible British lady, an art enthusiast played by Judi Dench, a lesbian archaeologist played by Lily Tomlin, and an astonishing rich and flambouyant Elsa, played by Cher, in her best role to date.
Set against the rise of fascism, the incredible inhumanity of man, is balanced by a small group of women look after each other. Tea with Mussolini is a fine film that seems to float over the dark chasms it covers.
Totally recommended
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
"Tea with Mussolini" portrays the beautiful Italian landscape and the superb acting of the incredible Maggie Smith, Judy Dench, Joan Plowright, Lilly Tomlin and the lovely Cher; however, in spite of these virtues the movie can be quite slow and even tedious at times and does not have the magic of other "Italian" films that come to mind such as "Enchanted April" and "A room with a view".
This is a story of a few lives intertwined by circumstance and World War II. Luca, an illegitimate child, unwanted by his father, is raised by the loving and patient Mary Wallace who is helped by a group of English ladies. Luca's father has a notion of making him "an English Gentlemen", a notion that soon changes according to the new political winds to become a wish of making him a "German businessman".... We meet the "Scorpions", a group of British ladies living in pre world war II Florence, headed by Maggie Smith who plays the widow of the British Ambassador - as she never fails to remind everyone. Scorpions is a nickname invented by Elsa, a rich American performer (Cher) who both laughs at and likes the group. Elsa becomes the benefactor of Luca and opens a trust for him, a favor he will return in the years to come.
I confess that the mixture of Italian charm with British ladies usually works for me and any film bringing us this excellent group of actors cannot be bad. However, "Tea with Mussolini" is not always credible and the characters are somewhat exaggerated. The war remains in the background, as something nor the ladies nor the viewers are able to fully grasp. The ladies would not leave Italy due to their love of the place and their naïve belief in Mussolini and an effort is made to show how their lives are affected.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Engaging Movie Worth Your Time Feb. 20 2004
With the many talented actresses in this film, you might have expected to have heard more about it. While the editing is questionable, this is still a wonderfully acted, engaging little film. Although, it does drag a few times, the story is worth knowing and the performances are top notch.Particularly Cher, who lights up the screen as Elsa. Especially, near the film's end as Elsa boards a small boat to escape with the assistance of the charming character Luka. Simply breath taking!
Grab your favorite beverage and check this film out!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing film.... April 26 2003
By A Customer
If you were unexpectedly swept away by Zeff's Romeo & Juliet when they forced you to watch it in high school english class (or have had any connection with any of his other films along the way), then this film will seem to fill in pieces of why, where, how that perspective come out of this particular human being. While it is only semi-autobiographical, it is a stunning look at coming of age with eyes that land behind a camera trying to share a single view with the many heads and eyes of the wide movie audiences of the world. The ensemble cast is the effortless mixed fabric of a multi-layered world. The locations are stunningly filmed. And the vulnerable emotions shared should move anyone with even a quarter of a beating human heart. If you are with a "man" like the reviewer previous to moi, one who finds it "boring" and made for "women", then you are with a *person* who may not be ready for open communications where an individual risks expression with others. But I have personally seen the film with several other men and women who were emotionally available in general, and we all adored this film.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rich, beautiful, layered, and delicious June 7 2003
With Judi Dench, Joan Plowright, Cher, and Maggie Smith, how could this movie be anything but wonderful? Set in Italy in the 30s and 40s, Mussolini's era, with WWII as a backdrop, it's the semi-autobiographical story of director Franco Zeffirelli's childhood. Beautiful scenery and costuming, beautiful sets, it's in many places a mood piece more than a deep examination of the issues involved. It spite of its occasional superficiality, a very wonderful film with stellar acting.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Enjoyable movie!
Published 2 days ago by Theresa Bellefontaine
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 14 days ago by gaenor williams
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very good
Published 1 month ago by Elga Radnor
5.0 out of 5 stars Tea with Mussolini
Tea With Mussolini is a fabulous film based on the autobiography of film director Franco Zeffirelli. The film is star studded, with beautiful art and beautiful Tuscan scenery. Read more
Published 1 month ago by carole
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 2 months ago by madeleine champagne
5.0 out of 5 stars ca - excellent
Same comments as for other products I have bought from Amazon.ca - excellent
Published 2 months ago by James Bunyan
4.0 out of 5 stars Tea in Italy.
A very good movie! A rare combination of actors. The movie was well done and well acted. My rule of thumb is if Judy Dench is in the movie it will be good and I was not... Read more
Published 6 months ago by grammyknitter
5.0 out of 5 stars Tea with Mussolini
I just love this movie and the places in Italy. Having been to Italy once and am definitely going back, we visited all the places in this movie. Love the movie.
Published 7 months ago by Florence Potter
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Cher's Strongest Performances
Tea With Mussolini, a semi-historical picture, is by far one of Cher's greatest performances. The film also includes some other top-notch actresses, including Maggie Smith, Judi... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Brent Josef
5.0 out of 5 stars A great movie for your collection
This is one of favourite movies of all time. The acting is wonderful and is based on a true story.
Published 15 months ago by Peggy Y
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