Tea With Mussolini is a film that has been on my radar for a long time. For years. Populated with some of the best British actresses of our time, I knew it was a movie I had to see. Unfortunately, it is not readily available on the streaming platforms I use. Finally, I decided I had waited long enough and purchased the DVD. It’s a purchase I do not regret.
In it’s purest form, Tea With Mussolini portrays the story of an orphaned Italian boy who’s life intersects with those of female British expatriates living in Italy during the years of WWII.
Little Luca’s mother is dead and his father cannot claim him, thanks to his vindictive, jealous wife. He is taken in by the kindly, maternal Mary Wallace (Joan Wallace) who can’t bear to see him sent to an orphanage. Mary is part of a community of British woman living in Florence which includes the flighty, artistic Arabella (Judy Dench) and the widow of the former British ambassador to Italy, Lady Hester Random (Maggie Smith). Also, contributing to Luca’s education and welfare are the American women Georgia Rockwell (Lily Tomlin) and the wealthy, flamboyant, Elsa Morganthal (Cher). Elsa’s friendship with Luca’s mother inspires her to provide a small trust for Luca’s future. Together these women share their knowledge and compassion with the young Luca before he is sent off to boarding school on the eve of World War II.
Years pass, and the women remain in Italy even though Britain is at war with their host country. Eventually, they are removed from their homes in Florence to less than acceptable housing as prisoners of war. Luca returns home where he secretly works with Elsa to better their living conditions.
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