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Tea with Mussolini

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Italy, United Kingdom · 1999
Rated PG · 1h 57m
Director Franco Zeffirelli
Starring Joan Plowright, Maggie Smith, Cher, Judi Dench
Genre Comedy, Drama, War

Semi-autobiographical film directed by Franco Zeffirelli, telling the story of young Italian boy Luca's upbringing by a circle of English and American women, before and during World War II.

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Village Voice by

Luca's transformation from waif to budding artist may be the thrust of the film, but it's the psyche of the conflicted grandson that you wonder about.


Dallas Observer by Jean Oppenheimer

Tea With Mussolini doesn't come close to John Boorman's captivating "Hope and Glory," which managed to address the terrible destructiveness and misery of the war as well as the magical adventure it offered its young protagonist.


Chicago Reader by Lisa Alspector

Cher generates much of the movie's limited interest with her powerful screen presence, and Maggie Smith's skill as a diplomat's widow who believes she has a special relationship with Mussolini is undeniable. Yet the story, structured by the fragmented perspectives of too many characters, is more often lightweight than funny.


Washington Post by Michael O'Sullivan

Watching Tea with Mussolini is probably a lot like having tea with Mussolini would be: never dull but neither, I imagine, an entirely pleasant experience.


Seattle Post-Intelligencer by Paula Nechak

Zeffirelli creates a lovely, perfectly composed and lyrical look at life under Mussolini's black-shirted fascist regime. But despite danger on every corner in Italy, there is a tinge of rose-colored sentiment that blurs the events yet lends to the making of an affecting dramatic period piece.


San Francisco Examiner by Walter Addiego

Cher is an inspired bit of casting, while the talented Dench is underused. Smith seems to be going through the motions as the fatuous and deluded aristocrat, while Tomlin has a ball as Georgie. But what really stays with you is the work by Plowright - she is a beacon of good sense (both as actor and character) and plucky as you please.

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