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A couple of months ago, I received info about a film set in Italy. I had opportunities to watch clips and listen in on interviews. I knew this film would go onto my “watch list” as soon as it became available. Perhaps because of my trip to Italy or perhaps because of the soulful journey in the story, I felt drawn to see Road to the Lemon Grove.
Road to the Lemon Grove Cast
The cast of Road to the Lemon Grove includes Burt Young, Rossella Brescia, Nick Mancuso and Charly Chiarelli.
Dale Hildebrand directs and co-wrote the screenplay with Chiarelli.
The film is unrated (I give it a PG-13 for mild language and brief nudity) and has a run time of 1 hour and 28 minutes.
The Journey Home
Antonio Contatini (dual role by Chiarelli) stands before heaven’s gates, impatient for admittance. To his consternation, the old man discovers that his mission on Earth isn’t quite finished.
Before he can enter heaven, Antonio must make amends with his son, Calogero (also Chiarelli) and help settle a long running feud in the family. This mission proves difficult, as Calogero doesn’t want anything to do with his father, dead or alive. He wants his father’s spirit to leave him alone.
And Calogero, who is a university professor teaching linguistics, is just as cautious with his late mother’s side of the family. With Antonio gone, Calogero’s uncle Vincent (Young) and the rest of his mother’s family plot to take the lemon grove that they all left behind when they moved from Sicily, Italy.
Antonio lures Calogero back to Sicily, making his son promise to scatter his ashes in the lemon grove.
Love and Redemption Italian Style
Calogero reluctantly takes his father’s ashes to Sicily. He left Italy with his parents as a baby. His parents never returned home and Calogero experiences Italy for the first time.
As he drives to the tiny town where relatives on both sides of his family still live, he is struck by the beauty of his home country. He pauses to swim in the Mediterranean and thoughtfully walk along narrow streets in small villages. Calogero even bumps into his Italian movie star crush, Maria (Brescia). His ghostly father tries to set the two up, thinking it will make his son happy. The results are hilariously disastrous. However, Calogero and Maria become friends and she accompanies him to scatter the ashes in the lemon grove.
As Calogero travels deeper into the heart and soul of his homeland, Vincent’s son, Guido (Mancuso), arrives to prevent his cousin from claiming the inheritance. Vincent wants the grove and intends sell it. He isn’t afraid to use any means necessary to do so.
The final family confrontation comes down to an elaborate Italian meal and a walk to the lemon grove, where miracles sometimes happen.
My Thoughts on Road to the Lemon Grove
I enjoyed this humorous film. At first it seemed LOUD to me, the way the Italian characters are portrayed. However, I quickly settled into the flow of the story and came to appreciate the intense dialogue and hand gesturing.
I love that Calogero’s classroom teachings about language and culture weave into the storyline, with reminders that America is built on the backs of immigrants from many countries, including Italy. And I savored the Italian landscapes, village streets and structures. There is such beauty throughout Italy. When I visited, we didn’t make it as far south as Sicily. I’d love to experience that region someday.
There are important messages shared in Road to the Lemon Grove, about family, love, culture, forgiveness and redemption. I noticed that as Calogero progresses closer to his family’s home village, he literally sheds his western clothes and persona. After stepping naked into the Mediterranean, he emerges reborn. He leaves most of his clothes behind…the overcoat, suit jacket and tie…traveling onward in a simple shirt and trousers. I love the symbolism.
How to Watch This Movie
Currently Road to the Lemon Grove is available for rent or purchase on Amazon. You can get a free Amazon Prime Video trial HERE.
Rent or purchase the movie through this LINK.
And Road to the Lemon Grove is also available to rent on iTunes.
If you watch this warm, funny, soulful film, let me know what you think!
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