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Shadows in the Sun
Stop me when you can finish this story for me:
An ambitious young publishing agent (one who dreams of becoming a novelist, natch) is assigned to track down a famous old writer who's now living in seclusion somewhere in gorgeous Tuscany. Upon arriving in a particularly adorably Italian village and thwarting the citizens' deceptions, our publisher finally discovers the rascally old writer -- and his stunningly beautiful daughter, who... ...Oh, yes. You in the back. Go ahead.
"OK, so the writer rejects the money-hungry editor, thereby teaching him a valuable lesson about being true to one's craft, which allows the writer to finally sign the kid's contract and the daughter to fall madly in looooooooove with the guy. Plus, Italy is really pretty, and it's populated by only the most wonderfully adorable kooks you can think of."
Wow, very impressive, and we won't even dock you points for "spoilers" because Shadows in the Sun is, far and away, one of the most painfully predictable rom-com melodramas ever conceived. Were it not for the bizarre combination of actors brought together for this hopelessly banal production, well, it simply wouldn't have been made.
Joshua Jackson is the ambitious young heel; Harvey Keitel is the yammering lunatic hermit writer-guy; Claire Forlani is the hot hot hottie who woos the young stud. Also keep your eyes peeled for Giancarlo Giannini as a lovably drunken priest and John Rhys-Davies as a gruff editor who appears in precisely one scene.
Writer/director Brad Mirman (Crime Spree) goes on a cinematic shopping spree here, and he fills his basket with nothing but the sweetest, oldest, and ripest clichés, tropes, and stereotypes imaginable. Shadows in the Sun is a movie made for bored housewives who, very smart or very not, simply don't mind watching a story they've heard about 1,000 times before. Aside from the gorgeous Italian countryside, Keitel's frequently wacky performance, and Forlani's hyper-hypnotic peepers, there's nothing to be found in Shadows of the Sun that won't make you bored, tired, or desperately in search of your remote.
Video: The film is presented in a bloated full-frame transfer. Although it debuted on television, I do believe that Shadows in the Sun was originally lensed in a theatrical aspect ratio, which kinda sucks. One of the flick's very best assets are its numerous exterior shots, and let's just say this garish transfer doesn't do the movie any favors.
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0, with optional English subtitles.
Extras: There's the 32-minute The Making of Shadows in the Sun which features a lot of on-set footage and sit-down segments with writer/director Brad Mirman, actors Joshua Jackson and Claire Forlani and a small variety of crew members. Also included are extra cast & crew interviews with Mirman, Jackson, Forlani and producer Jamie Brown.
You won't find a much bigger Keitel fan than me, but not even the actor's patented brand of wide-eyed lunacy can save this one.