Florence, Italy, on the brink of WWII: it was a time of social unrest and, of course...afternoon tea. Join Oscar┬(r) winner* Cher and an incredible cast of leading ladies as they host this "radiant, beautiful film" (Gene S... more »halit, "Today Show") that is "worth savoring" (Mademoiselle).Prewar Florence is the place to be for any proper British woman who relishes culture and the arts. These ladies have everything they could ever want or needincluding a promise from dictator Mussolini himself that not even the imminent world war will impose upon their lifestyle. But when itappears that his word is not kept, and these expatriateswho chose to stay in Italy instead of seeking refuge in their own countryare in trouble, it takes a young outcast boy and a brazen American woman (Cher) to keep them in the high life and out of harm's way.« less
Paul P. from PLEASANT PR, WI Reviewed on 3/26/2013...
This is my favorite movie of all times. It features an all-star cast, with Cher, Dame Judi Dench, Joan Plowright, Maggie Smith, Lilly Tomlin. If you are a fan of strong women characters, this is one to watch.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Mary C. from ERIE, PA Reviewed on 11/19/2009...
How could any movie with this cast be less than 5 stars! A sweet story about the strength of women, this movie gives us another view of WWII events.
2 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Rammy M. (m5rammy) from VANDALIA, OH Reviewed on 1/19/2009...
Nice movie (seemed a bit long, but not unbearably)
Good performances by good actresses.
I think the Synopsis says enough.
1 of 6 member(s) found this review helpful.
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My wife insisted we watch this film - since it was not something in which I was interested (dramas and romances are not usually what I prefer to watch)I picked up a book and began reading. Within minutes, I was completely enraptured by this movie and forgot about the book. While a picture with the title TEA WITH MUSSOLINI sounds leisurely, trust me, it's not. It moves forward beautifully telling a true story of English and American women in Italy at the breakout of the war and its effect on them and the Italian child they have all raised together. This is a remarkable film (an epic in small movie disguise)with indelible performances from a perfect cast esp. Cher and Joan Plowright. Why neither they nor this film have appeared on many (if any) best of the year lists is completely mind-boggling to my wife and myself. The play is truly the thing here and director Zeffirelli has done a marvelous job telling a wonderful story (his own life)that's ultimately irristible. Filled with humor, hope and inspiration - words that usually make producers cringe these days but words that still mean the best in great moviemaking. My choice for best film of the year and one of the best of all time. A minor masterpiece. Please give it a try...I don't think you'll be disappointed if you're looking for something with great heart that has something to say about the dignity of the human spirit. Better than LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL. A gem!"
Charming entertainment but not much depth
Linda Linguvic | New York City | 02/09/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Based loosely on the autobiography of the director, Franco Zeffinelli, this film is a light frothy comedy about a serious subject. It is the story of Italy in the 1930s and Mussolini's rise to power. It is also the story of the young illegitimate son of a textile merchant who gets adopted by a group of eccentric aging Englishwomen living in Florence. The delightful cast includes English Maggie Smith as a dowager grande dame who looks down her nose with disdain at everything around her, Judy Dentch as an dotty art lover, Joan Plowright as a sensible motherly type and Lily Tomlin as an a forthright lesbian. Surrounded by the art and grandeur of Florence, these ladies love Italy and refuse to believe that their lives will change under the darkening clouds of fascism. Into this mix comes Cher as the rich American ex-chorus girl who marries rich men wears beautiful outfits. I recommend this video for what it is -- a couple of hours of light and charming entertainment. Florence is beautiful, the costumes are great, the acting is good, and the war is sanitized. However, if you are looking for depth and complexity, you won't find it here."
A film that stirs the heart
holden28 | usa | 01/17/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The film "Tea with Mussolini" deals with complex issues in such a subtle way that it is easy to dismiss if the viewer overlooks the intriquite relationships of the characters. How the characters evolve from being self-involved (their love of the arts and formalities) to becoming caring individuals and creating bonds that overcome the heirarchies of the social class structure due to race, nationality, war and a young boy that pulls them together. Luca a young Italian boy copes with having no family due to being an illigitamate child in picturesque Italy during The Second World War. Lucas mothers death and his father's refusal to take him into his care due to a wife that would not accept him lead him to find a new family with his father's secretary (Joan Plowright) and her sociatal peers The Scorpioni (The Scorpions) named for the groups sharp wit and poisonous bite. This group takes young Luca into their privliged clique and shares in the education and introduces young Luca to The Arts which is the groups passion. Little do they know that by doing this they have began on a road to self change that will alter thier view on the world, thier friendships and detestations of others in the group. This film is a story of compassion, friendship, art, family, accepatance, change, egos, jeolousy and shows the letting go of beliefs and the opening of hearts. The cast is first rate with the likes of Cher, Maggie Smith, Joan Plowright, Lily Tomlin and Judi Dench along with the perfect casting of the character Luca played by Baird Wallace (Luca: teenager) and Charlie Lucas (Luca: child) both of these fine young actors will grab the viewers heart and make him want to help with the caring of and the education of this heart grabbing character. Luca's troubles will affect the viewer and pull at one's heartstrings. Baird Wallace is talented young actor that holds his own and deserves praise and notice from the industry. Recomendations: Buy this film, it is a film with grit and emotions that will make you examine your own life and wish that you could have been as bleesed as Luca had."
bookloversfriend | United States | 09/16/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In spite of the disastrous title and the repulsive cover picture, this is the best film Zeffirelli has made since "Romeo and Juliet." It has a nice balance of atmosphere, characterization and action. The photography and scenery alone are worth the price of admission. Missing is the magnificent music that Zeffirelli usually has in his films. Contrary to the amazon reviewer, the film is quite focused and carries with it a tension, although the tension is deliberately kept from becoming oppressive. The path of the story is not at all "predictable" with several surprising turns. There are a few laughs in the beginning, but this is a serious film.
I went back to Zeffirelli's Autobiography to re-read the passages dealing with the scorpioni. They were real, of course, but apparently this story is fictional, as are all the characters except Mary Wallace. Zeffirelli put some incidents from his own life into the movie, and the actor who played Luca bears a striking resemblance to the young Zeffirelli, but that is all. Zeffirelli was illegitimate. He lived with his mother the first few years until she died. He was then brought up by a cousin. He was accosted by his father's wife, and his father did put him to study English with one of the old English ladies of Florence, Mary O'Neill, who was fond of playing the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet with him. But when the scorpioni were rounded up and shipped out of Florence, Zeffirelli says (p. 24) that he never saw Mary O'Neill again. He hid out in the mountains to avoid the draft and headed south, finally meeting up with the Allied front lines. The encounter with them in the movie is more or less like the book.
I would like to have seen a little more of the scorpioni before the war hit, but I'm sure I'll be watching this movie again and again."
Franco Zeffirelli's Own "Artist Becoming A Young Man"
carol irvin | United States | 11/18/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've always enjoyed Franco Zeffirelli's films and opera productions and this film is no exception. This semi-autobiographical coming of age story fits so well among the usual coming of age stories of people in the arts. So many of these people have grown up with a close mothering or woman-based support system. That the child-teen here is not legitimate and has a whole clan of English and American women to raise him in Fascist-filled 1930s' and 1940s' Italy, makes him virtually predestined for a career in the arts. These women are even willing to risk their lives to preserve Italian frescoes, which only an artist would bother to recount. The ensemble cast of women is superb. Maggie Smith has the English elitist down perfectly by this point in her career and she can be quietly hilarious playing it, especially in her misguided belief that "Il Duce" is protecting her in Italy. Cher returns to the screen in a wonderfully luminous role as a wealthy American entertainer, who is also Jewish and about to be sold to out to the Germans by her Italian boyfriend. John Mortimer co-scripted the film with Zeffirelli. Mortimer created the fictional "Rumpole of the Bailey" so he is well able to flesh out all of these eccentric English characters. It is also quite common for artists to return to childhood-adolesence when evaluating where their germination in the arts began. Both Fellini and Bergmann returned to their childhoods too in semi-autobiographical form in several of their films."