Eric, Brett Dalton (The Resurrection Of Gavin Stone, Beside Still Waters) and his girlfriend, Emily Atack (Ibiza Undead, Dad’s Army), two Americans, are enjoying Florence, Italy while visiting Eric’s cousin and her husband, Stana Katic (Castle (TV), CBGB) & Marco Bonini (18 Years Later, Under The Tuscan Sun).
After Eric’s proposal gets rejected by his girlfriend, he wanders around the city trying to mend his broken heart by participating in a local sport – Calcio Fiorentino, an old kind of football, typically Italian – and reconnecting with Stefania, Alessandra Mastronardi (Life, To Rome With Love), an old acquaintance.
Navigating between a romance movie and a sports movie, Lost in Florence, written and directed by Evan Oppenheimer (Scopers, Justice) ends up being… none, really.
The romance is almost shoved to the background compared to the Calcio Fiorentino game, but the game never feels that important in the movie either.
The problem with Lost in Florence is that it completely forgoes any stakes, or conflict, or character development. Eric, our heartbroken protagonist, gets over his lost love pretty quickly once he meets someone new – and the obstacles to his new romance are so flimsy they’re barely there.
There are more stakes regarding the game, but never enough to make the viewer root for Eric’s team to win; instead we just watch bland characters falling in love and scoring points with no emotional attachments whatsoever.
Oppenhaimer tries to add some conflict to his story by creating a subplot revolving around Eric being somewhat discriminated against because he’s American and therefore shouldn’t play the traditionally Italian game, but like every other conflict, this one is overcome just as quickly and feels slightly ridiculous.
While there could have been actual discussions around the keeping of traditions and how tourism can affect them, the movie never fully goes there but just portrays the Italian “gatekeepers” as mean and the protagonist as a skillfull Calcio player whose help is the one they needed all along to win.
In the same way, expanding on some characters (like Stefania’s boyfriend, played by Alessandro Preziosi (Loose Cannons, I Vicere)) could have given more depth and nuance to the movie, but the character is instead, not even one-dimensional, but with no dimension at all.
On the other side of this problem, some side characters get developments that lead nowhere. Eric’s cousin is an intriguing character that has several good scenes, but her small storyline ultimately means nothing to the plot at large.
With a title such as Lost in Florence, you’d expect the city to be an important and crucial part of the plot; it is, in some ways, but again never used at its full potential.
Everything happens in Florence (and was filmed in the actual city), and while there are some scenes teaching us more about the history of the city, its traditions, its art and architecture, or just showing the everyday streets and life, you never feel as immersed in Italy as you wish you would have been – and the very conventional direction, cinematography and music (with a soundtrack that tries to sound traditionally Italian but ends up being entirely too generic and forgettable) ends up making Florence look like any other city rather than enhancing its beauty.
Still, the movie isn’t painful to watch; there is a nice, sweet atmosphere all throughout, like you are yourself walking around Florence and letting your mind wander off somewhere else – this makes it a great movie to put in the background while doing something else entirely, but unfortunately not a movie that will catch your attention.