GenreDrama, Mystery, Thriller Initial DVD releaseNovember 25, 2003 LanguageEnglish
WriterWilliam Trevor, Hugh Whitemore Release date2003 (2003) CastMaggie Smith (Mrs. Emily Delahunty), Ronnie Barker (The General), Chris Cooper (Thomas 'Tom' Riversmith), Benno Fürmann (Werner), Giancarlo Giannini (Inspector Girotti), Timothy Spall (Quinty) Similar moviesRichard Loncraine directed My House in Umbria and The Gathering Storm
My House in Umbria is a 2003 HBO made-for-television movie, based on the novella of the same name by William Trevor and published along with another novella in the volume Two Lives. The film stars Maggie Smith and was directed by Richard Loncraine.
Emily Delahunty (Maggie Smith) is an eccentric British romance novelist who lives in Umbria in central Italy, where she runs a pensione for tourists. Mrs Delahunty settled in Italy to flee from a somewhat traumatic past which still haunts her, and lives alone apart from a few servants and her manager Quinty (Timothy Spall). One day while taking a shopping trip to Florence, the train she is on is bombed by terrorists. After she wakes up in a hospital, she invites three of the other survivors of the disaster to stay at her villa for recuperation. Of these are "the General" (Ronnie Barker) a retired British Army veteran, Werner (Benno Fürmann), a young German photographer, and Aimee (Emmy Clarke), a young American girl who has now become mute after her parents were both killed in the explosion.
As the group recover from their ordeal (in which the General lost his daughter, and Werner lost his girlfriend and suffered considerable burns to his arm), the explosion is being investigated by Inspector Girotti (Giancarlo Giannini), a local policeman. Responding to the warmth and kindness of Mrs Delahunty and the others, Aimee begins to speak again, while the local authorities seek out any relatives who might be able to take her in. They eventually locate her uncle, Thomas Riversmith (Chris Cooper), a university professor in the US. He agrees to take Aimee back to the USA to live with his wife and himself, though they have little time for (and no experience with) raising children and are particularly concerned about trying to raise a child who has been through such a traumatic experience. Via flashbacks it is revealed that Mrs. Delahunty was an orphan who was molested as a child by her adoptive father. At a young age she fled England with a travelling salesman and spent years living as a prostitute before Quinty convinced her to move to Italy.
Mrs Delahunty grows to like her new housemates and invites the General and Werner to stay indefinitely. She also works hard to find common ground with Aimee's uncle and tries to convince him to leave Aimee with her in Italy rather than taking the child back to America to a loveless home. Meanwhile, Inspector Girotti discovers that Werner was involved in the terrorist attack on the train. Mrs Delahunty reluctantly admits that she has come to the same conclusion, but Werner departs in secret before he can be confronted. Although disappointed by the revelation, Mrs Delahunty is delighted to learn that the General intends to stay on and that Thomas has allowed Aimee to remain as well. The film ends with Mrs Delahunty embracing her new circumstances, having finally resolved her inner turmoil.
The plot departs substantially from that of William Trevor's somber novella.
Maggie Smith as Mrs. Emily Delahunty
Chris Cooper as Thomas Riversmith
Timothy Spall as Quinty
Emmy Clarke as Aimee
Ronnie Barker as The General
Benno Fürmann as Werner
Giancarlo Giannini as Inspector Girotti
Libero De Rienzo as Dr. Innocenti
Cecilia Dazzi as Rosa Crevelli
Much of the film was made on location in Italy, including Cinecittà, Rome, Lazio, Siena and Tuscany.
Primetime Emmy Awards
Outstanding Made for Television Movie (nominated)
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie (Smith, won)
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie (Cooper, nominated)
Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Dramatic Special (nominated)
Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Dramatic Special (nominated)
Outstanding Art Direction for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special (nominated)
Outstanding Casting for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special (nominated)
Outstanding Costumes for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special (nominated)
Outstanding Hairstyling for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special (nominated)
Golden Globe Awards
Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television (nominated)
Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television (Smith, nominated)