Tea with Mussolini

Zeffirelli has a different take on life under a dictator

If you’re hoping to see a serious historical portrayal of an Italian dictator, don’t bother with Franco Zeffirelli’s Tea with Mussolini. There are plenty of things to enjoy in this satire, but its focus is more on a group of snooty, middle-aged British women than on fascism. The main character is a young orphan, Luca, who is raised by a group of sharp-tongued British socialites living in pre-WWII Florence. The strongest points of interest are the cast — Luca’s surrogate moms are played fantastically by Judi Dench, Joan Plowright and Lily Tomlin. The ladies teach Luca about art, manners and the other finer points of life. They look down on Elsa, an American opportunist played by Cher, who also stops by to influence Luca. All these characters are put to the test as the Fascists tighten their grip on Italian society. Their lighthearted antics prevail, overshadowing the realities of Italy at the time. 7 p.m. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet. For tickets and information, call 713-639-7771 or visit www.mfah.org/films. $7 adults; $6 seniors.
Mon., April 28, 7 p.m., 2008
 
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