Tea with Mussolini

  • PG
  • Franco Zeffirelli (1998)
  • It (SUB)
  • 112 min
Film Review
Reviewed By
3 out of 5

Franco Zeffirelli here turns the camera onto his own life as a young boy growing up in Mussolini's Italy of the 1930s. Following his mother's death, the young Luca is rescued from the prospect of life in an orphanage by an eccentric group of expatriate women dubbed "Scorpioni". We assume Luca is Zeffirelli himself, not that he's the central character of the film - he's more the eyes through which we see these corseted and costumed women, who are like refugees from a Merchant Ivory drama. Judi Dench, Joan Plowright, Maggie Smith, Lily Tomlin and Cher give boisterously strong performances as the gaggle who gather over tea to gossip, and who act as unofficial minders and teachers to Luca. As it continues, the movie becomes a more conventional wartime story, ultimately making the drama a series of anecdotes rather than a rich character piece.

Plot Summary

Part-autobiographical period comedy drama by Franco Zeffirelli, starring Cher, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright and Maggie Smith. Fascism seems a very distant threat for the English and American women living in 1930s Florence, and for the local boy who befriends them. When war starts, the group's sheltered existence is destroyed and they have to unite to survive.

Cast and crew

Cast

Elsa
Cher
Arabella
Judi Dench
Mary
Joan Plowright
Lady Hester
Maggie Smith
Georgie
Lily Tomlin
Luca
Baird Wallace
Luca (child)
Charlie Lucas
Paolo
Massimo Ghini

Crew

Director
Franco Zeffirelli

Other Information

Language: 
English, Italian +subtitles
Colour
Theatrical distributor: 
U.I.P. (UK)
Guidance: 
May be edited for language.
Available on video and DVD
Certificate PG
Categories
Comedy
Drama