Tea with Mussolini
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Time Out saysFranco Zeffirelli's autobiographical WWII Tuscan drama is edged with (uncharacteristic) irony and artistic reserve, turning what is essentially an old-fashioned, faintly twee exercise in nostalgia into an amusing historical entertainment. The master of Chianti-shire manners, John Mortimer has co-scripted, and it feels as much his film as Zeffirelli's. Mortimer details the pretensions, rivalries and snobberies of the so-called Florentine scorpione among whom the film's young hero, the bastard Luca, is fostered; and it's this colony of dotty, politically inert, artistically bent British ex-pats, either taking tea in the Uffizi or talking art in Doney's café, and variously oblivious, contemptuous or supportive of the fascists, which holds centre stage. They're played with ease by a roll call of theatrical dames. The rest is a gently teasing tribute to wartime British pluck (read: muddling through) and American 'can-do', lit like a lost summer by David Watkin.