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My house in Umbria - Maggie Smith, Chris Cooper, Timothy Spall, Richard Loncraine

Threat advisory: High - High risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

Every survivor has a story.

Set in the sprawling Tuscan countryside, My house in Umbria is a superb adaptation of William Trevor's novella about four people who bond when thrown together in the wake of terrorist attack. Anchored by two-time Oscar winner Dame Maggie Smith in a radiant performance as an English romance writer, Mrs Delahunty, My house in Umbria is a charming and evocative drama.

When Emily Delahunty (Maggie Smith) is one of only four survivors of a mysterious explosion on a train bound for Milan, she offers her home to the three other survivors: a retired English General (Ronnie Barker), young German photographer Werner (Benno Fürmann) and 8-year-old American girl Aimee (Emmy Clarke) orphaned in the blast, while Inspector Girotti (Giancarlo Giannini) tries to figure out exactly what happened. Surrounded by lush scenery in an idyllic location, the group forms an unexpectedly strong bond while convalescing and coming to terms with the disaster.

But their peace and harmony are upset by the arrival of the girl's overly staid uncle, Tom Riversmith (Chris Cooper).

Persons of interest

  • Maggie Smith .... Mrs Emily Delahunty
  • Chris Cooper .... Tom Riversmith
  • Timothy Spall .... Quinty
  • Benno Fürmann .... Werner
  • Ronnie Barker .... the General
  • Giancarlo Giannini .... Inspector Girotti
  • Emmy Clarke .... Aimee
  • Libero De Rienzo .... Doctor Innocenti
  • William Trevor .... Author
  • Hugh Whitemore .... Screenwriter
  • Richard Loncraine .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

  • My house in Umbria official movie site
  • My house in Umbria production notes
  • My house in Umbria movie trailers:
    • QuickTime
  • Awards and film festivals:
    • Cinema Audio Society, USA 2004: Nominated: Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Television - Movies and Mini-Series (Robin O'Donoghue, Mike Dowson, Mark Taylor, David Stephenson)
    • Cinematic Intelligence Agency Trenchcoat Awards 2005: Nominated: Best cinematographer (Marco Pontecorvo), Best actor - Female (Maggie Smith as Emily Delahunty), Best director (Richard Loncraine)
    • Directors Guild of America, USA 2004: Nominated: Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Movies for Television (Richard Loncraine)
    • Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (ATAS - Emmys) 2003: Won: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie (Maggie Smith); Nominated: Outstanding Art Direction for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special (Luciana Arrighi, Christina Onori, Alessandra Querzola), Outstanding Casting for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special (Irene Lamb), Outstanding Costumes for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special (Nicoletta Ercole, Rosa Palma, M Erminia Melato), Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special (Richard Loncraine), Outstanding Hairstyling for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special (Maria Teresa Corridoni, Desideria Corridoni, Gianna Viola, Anna De Santis), Outstanding Made for Television Movie (Frank Doelger, Robert Allan Ackerman, Ann Wingate), Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie (Chris Cooper), Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special (Hugh Whitemore)
    • Hollywood Foreign Press Association (Golden Globes) 2004: Nominated: Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television, Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television (Maggie Smith)
    • International Press Academy Golden Satellite Awards 2004: Nominated: Best Motion Picture Made for Television, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries or a Motion Picture Made for Television (Chris Cooper), Best Performance by an Actress in a Miniseries or a Motion Picture Made for Television (Maggie Smith)
    • PGA Golden Laurel Awards 2004: Won: Television Producer of the Year Award in Long-form (Frank Doelger, Robert Allan Ackerman, Ann Wingate)
    • Young Artist Awards 2004: Won: Best Performance in a TV Movie, Miniseries or Special - Supporting Young Actress (Emmy Clarke); Nominated: Best Family Television Movie or Special
  • See also Swimming pool
  • Studios and distributors:

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

My house in Umbria took me by surprise, not the least because I thought I was going to see Ladies in lavender, which also stars Maggie Smith as a slightly batty woman in an isolated house with injured foreigners who become delightful company until it all goes dreadfully wrong. Which is not to say that My house in Umbria is generic but it does have resonances when all you've seen are trailers (which you always try to avoid because they always show the best bits and spoil everything for you, don't they?).

The movie begins with a Driving Miss Daisy feel: old car, old clothes, Daisy (aka Emily Delahunty - Maggie Smith) in the back seat looking as regal as a queen. Countryside, fields crops, wild flowers, sunshine. This is a time gone by. Then they get to the railway station and suddenly it's The Present. Shiny new diesel train, backpackers, Americans, bombs. Ah, the joys of terrorism. The shock to the system is as spiritually profound as it is emotional and mental. There's no-one on this train who needs to be blown up. It's a random act of chaos. Or is it?

Move over Miss Marple, it's time for Miss Delahunty and her glass of grappa; there's something dark and mysterious hiding in the bright, central-Italian sunshine. Finding out what is half the fun, the rest is delighting in the ways and manners of a more gracious era: dressing for dinner, cocktails, servants, walks in the countryside. If you're a Romantic like me, you'll love this.

Meanwhile, the blowing up of the train compartment special effect is great! I like explosions and this one is awesome for its subtle realism. I am also awarding 50 bonus points for having no subtitles! At last, someone has heard my plea: a well-written script does not need English dialogue as the imagery alone should tell you the story.

Security censorship classification

M (Mature themes)

Surveillance time

103 minutes (1:43 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

Film: 24 February 2005
DVD rental: 7 September 2005

Cinema surveillance images

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