Is Made In Italy Based on a True Story?

Is Made In Italy Based on a True Story?


  • Made in Italy has autobiographical ties to Liam Neeson & Micheál Richardson’s real-life tragedy.
  • The movie is a father-son drama with a romantic comedy twist set in Tuscany.
  • Towards the end, Robert & Jack confront their pain together and decide to keep the Tuscan villa.

Written and directed by James D’Arcy, Made in Italy is a heartfelt romantic dramedy released in August 2020. The story follows Robert and Jack Foster, an estranged father and son who reunite and venture to the Italian countryside. While attempting to patch up their relationship, Robert and Jack are tasked with selling the Tuscan villa left to them by Robert’s wife and Jack’s deceased Italian mother after she died in a tragic car accident.

Although the movie is written and directed by D’Arcy, the story has far more autobiographical ties to Liam Neeson and his real-life son, Micheál Richardson, who plays his son Jack in the movie. In particular, the real-life death of Micheál’s mother and Neeson’s wife, Natasha Richardson, has tragic parallels with the underlying plot of Made in Italy. While the movie isn’t entirely based on a true story per se, it shares many similarities with the real-life tragedy Neeson and Richardson suffered in 2009.

3 What is Made In Italy About?


Made in Italy functions as a tender father-son drama and touching international romantic comedy at once. The story centers on Jack Foster, a budding artist who is divorcing his wife, Ruth (Yolanda Kettle). When Ruth announces her family is selling the art gallery that Jack manages, Jack reunites with his estranged father, Robert Foster, a famous artist. Jack and Robert agree to travel to Tuscany to sell the house they’ve inherited from Jack’s mother, an Italian woman who was married to Robert before dying in a horrific car crash. Jack plans to use the proceeds of the sale to purchase the art gallery Ruth’s family is selling to maintain his managerial role.

As Jack and Robert repair the rundown house, the refurbishment becomes a metaphor for the work they’re doing to smooth out their rocky father-son relationship. Meanwhile, Jack meets a charming woman named Natalia (Valeria Bilello) and begins to forget about his failed marriage with Ruth. Natalia begins to help Jack and Robert repair the Tuscan villa, which reminds Robert of his wife and brings back both loving and painful memories of her. Throughout the movie, the memory of Robert’s wife and Jack’s mother lingers over the house like a specter, with both of them avoiding discussing the tragedy with each other. However, Robert does tell Natalia that ever since his wife’s death, he has been unable to paint. By opening up with Natalia, Robert is able to communicate with Jack later on and rekindle his art life in the movie.

2 What Happens at the End of Made in Italy?

Robert and Jack eat sit in a restaurant in Made In Italy

Once Robert opens up to Natalia and the real estate agent Kate (Lindsay Duncan), he begins to heal as the house begins to take better shape. The most crucial aspect of the movie relative to Neeson and Richardson’s real-life tragedy comes toward the end when Robert and Jack finally find the strength and courage to confront their pain together. Jack finds several hidden paintings in Robert’s workspace and asks his father why he repressed his memories and kept his childhood from him. Robert explains that he felt it was the best way to protect him and keep him from feeling the agonizing sense of loss and grief over his mother’s death.


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Finally, after being unable to communicate about the tragedy for years, Robert and Jack have a profound breakthrough, collapse on the floor together in a well of emotion, and begin honoring the most important woman in their life. In the end, they decide not to sell the Tuscan villa as it means too much to the memory of the loving mother and wife. Robert opens an art school in Tuscany and begins teaching classes, while Jack settles down with Natalia nearby. Yet, as Robert and Jack fondly remember their wife and mother, it’s impossible not to think of the parallels between the movie and the genuine tragedy the main actors endured.

1 How Much of Made in Italy is Based on a True Story?

Jack and Robert touch foreheads in Made in Italy

On March 18, 2009, Liam Neeson’s wife and Micheál Richardson’s mother, Natasha Richardson, tragically passed away from brain injuries she sustained while skiing. Upon falling and hitting her head on a mountain in Quebec, Richardson initially refused medical treatment as anyone might. After sustaining a severe headache two hours later, Richardson was flown to Lennox Hill Hospital in New York. Two days later, Richardson fatally succumbed to an epidural hematoma. The supremely talented actor died way too young and was only 45 years old when she passed away. In response to the unthinkable tragedy, Richardson’s family released a statement that read:

“Liam Neeson, his sons, and the entire family are shocked and devastated by the tragic death of their beloved Natasha. They are profoundly grateful for the support, love, and prayers of everyone, and ask for privacy during this very difficult time.”

Speaking of Liam Neeson and his sons, the real-life tragedy they suffered is eerily reminiscent of the fatal accident that informs the plot of Made in Italy. One big difference is that, in the film, Jack’s mother dies when he is a young boy. In reality, Micheál Richardson was 13 when Natasha Richardson lost her life. Other details such as the cause of death have been altered in the movie, but the profound sense of pain, grief, and loss are felt just the same. When watching Made in Italy, hearts break not necessarily for Jack and Robert and their sense of loss, but for Micheál Richardson and Liam Neeson and their genuinely unfathomable sense of despair.


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Unfortunately, according to critics, the movie never delves deep enough into the cathartic bond formed between Jack and Robert as a means of therapeutic recovery. Had the movie somehow made viewers feel the visceral sense of loss Neeson and Richardson suffered in real life, the dramatic effect of Jack and Robert’s loss in the movie would resonate far more.

However, since writer/director James D’Arcy did not deliberately base the entire movie on the true story of the Neeson/Richardson tragedy, it’s easy to excuse where the movie veers from the facts to tell a father-son tale composited with a romantic comedy. In the end, Made In Italy loosely takes the heartbreaking death of Natasha Richardson and offers the chance for her real-life husband and son to grieve her loss and celebrate her towering memory through art. While life often imitates art, in Made in Italy, art partially imitates life. The result may not always work, but the intention is undeniably honorable. Stream Made in Italy on Netflix.


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