My House in Umbria

Maggie Smith has already won an Emmy for her performance in this pretty moderate cable movie. She’s in her usual commanding form as Emily Delahunty, prolific writer of romance novels, who offers her Umbrian mansion as a place of recuperation for the fellow survivors of a terrorist bomb-blast. Predictably, they’re a varied bunch, including a troubled young German (Benno Fürmann), a crusty British general (Ronnie Barker, not bad in a rare dramatic role) and a little American girl (Emily Clarke), orphaned by the incident. Bonding with the child proves an enriching experience for the spinsterish but flamboyant grande dame, with dilemmas and regret to follow when a dull-stick academic uncle (Chris Cooper, constrained in a stuffy role) arrives to claim his niece. Elsewhere, the restorative power of gardening works its magic, and the film trundles along pleasantly enough. Smith’s showboating is inevitably disarming, but this still looks like it belongs on the small screen.

Release details

Rated: 12A
Release date: Friday November 26 2004
Duration: 103 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Richard Loncraine
Screenwriter: Hugh Whitemore
Cast: Maggie Smith
Ronnie Barker
Chris Cooper
Benno Fürmann
Giancarlo Giannini
Timothy Spall
Emmy Clarke
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