Luca is a child and teen in pre-war fascist 1930s Italy. The illegitimate son of an Italian clothing manufacturer and a deceased woman, he lives with an Englishwoman, Mary Wallace (Plowright), and hangs out with a community of expat British ladies -- including the wife of an ex-diplomat (Maggie Smith), an artistic soul (Dench), and a lesbian archaeologist (Tomlin) -- in the city of Florence. They believe their sheltered existence will be guaranteed by Mussolini himself, since he airily promised as much at a tea hosted by Lady Hester (Maggie Smith). Into this circle flits Elsa Morgenthal Strauss-Armistan (Cher), a loud American they find vulgar but who respects the older women and secretly pays for their transfer out of a prison camp and into a guarded hotel after conditions quickly deteriorate. She in turn is betrayed to the fascists by her lover, the chauffeur. Franco Zeffirelli co-wrote and directed this fairly autobiographical 1999 film, although his character, Luca, is a small boy to a teen who does't do much beyond observe the others. The result is anecdotal, pleasant, but not very weighty.
The review of this Movie prepared by David Loftus
A great story about how a group of high society English and American ladies managed to survive WW2 when on they were on Italian soil.
The review of this Movie prepared by Jenny
Dictator Benito Mussolini has promised that these British ladies will come to no harm, as
they live out their lives of true gentility in Florence leading up to World War II. In “Tea
with Mussolini,” an autobiographical journey for director Franco Zeffirelli, these
ladies come to an abrupt conclusion that Il Dulce is not so sweet after all. But this film,
starring Cher, Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright, and Lily Tomlin, is more than a
diatribe against the fascists. It is at once a love story, a tragedy, and also a delightful
comedy--it is an enchantment of a movie, filled with excellent cinematography (which fully
captures Florence and the surrounding Italian countryside) and a musical score that is
compatible with the movie's overall presentation.
The review of this Movie prepared by Bill Hobbs