So after you watch every single version of Jane Austen movies, what do you have to watch next?
That’s why I started this list, to have non-Austen films that Austen fans can enjoy.
Here we go with:
So lately Amazon has been horrible in their recommendations, they have bee listing off films and TV shows I have zero interest in.
I was scrolling through the list of recommendations and I saw this ’80s jukebox (songs that are not by the same artist or band) and I had to watch it. I love anything ’80s!
Taylor (Hannah Arterton) is from England vacationing in Italy before she starts University. While on her vacation she met a handsome Italian man, Raf (Giulio Berruti) and the two fall in love.
Raf wanted her to stay with him, and logical, practical, always sensible Taylor thought about it. After all her friend Elena (Leona Lewis) fell in love and is staying. But as tempted as she is, she can’t and instead says goes home-singing Holiday.
Three years later Taylor has just graduated from University and is called by her sister Madison (Annabel Scholey) to join her for vacation in Italy. Taylor arrives in the same place she had vacationed years earlier, Puglia. Taylor is pleased to be spending time with her sister as she’s been so busy with school. She also is looking for some girl time as her sister has finally broken up with her horrible boyfriend Doug, they have been on and off for the past five years.
She arrives and finds their family friend Lil there too and the biggest surprise of her life-her sister has only been there a few weeks and has fallen in love, along with being engaged to be married to an Italian guy, and is going to be married in two days.
This isn’t the first time Madison has made a horrible decision regarding men and love as she is extremely romantic, emotional, and always going with what feels right in her heart.
Madison will not be swayed, espechially after Lil drops that Taylor had a lover in Italy. Madison is surprised her sensible sister could ever have a fling as she has never dated anyone, this “Italian guy” must really be special if he is the only one to ever touch her heart. Madison tells Taylor that they will have dinner with her guy, and she, after singing Venus, goes to get ready.
Taylor starts to the beach and runs into her friend Elena and Raf’s friends. She wants to see Raf, but her friend’s warn her that things are different now. She doesn’t stay but searches the beach for Raf, singing How Will I Know. When she reaches Raf he’s mad. He asked her to stay, and she left him brokenhearted.
The two are starting to talk with Madison comes over and introduces her fiancé Raf to Taylor.
Both Raf and Taylor are in shock. Raf never put it together as she and her sister look nothing alike, Taylor is a super common name, they have only been together for weeks so he hasn’t met her family until now. Taylor is just stunned.
Dinner that night is an awkward affair for Raf and Taylor, but Madison is full of happiness for all those she loves to be together. She then sings The Power of Love.
Raf is not pleased with this turn of events and wants to tell Madison right away. He doesn’t want any secrets, but Taylor convinces him to keep it secret as it will only hurt her sister and might break them up and damage the relationship with her sister.
The next day is the day before the wedding and Madison has a whole list of things that need to be taken care of-asking her maid of honor and sister to do it with Raf. Raf and Taylor do not want to spend anytime together, but do everything-people commenting that they are an adorable couple and it makes them both upset as feelings surface and they end up spending the whole time arguing.
Meanwhile, Madison ran into her ex-boyfriend Doug (Greg Wise) who is a horrible player of a man. He wants her to get back with him, but she refuses as she is getting married. The two sing “Don’t You Want Me Baby” but Doug convinces her to have one last dinner with him to say goodbye.
Back and the villa, Raf and Taylor return, having argued about how much they loathe each other and they run into Madison. She is happy that everything has worked out and asks if Taylor wants to bring the only man she ever loved, her Italian lover from three years ago. Raf is stunned as he thought Taylor saw him as a check off her summer list, all these years he didn’t realize she cared as deeply as he did.
He leaves, and Taylor and Madison talk. Flowers arrive from Doug and when Taylor questions Madison she just laughs it off as a farewell dinner with Doug. No big deal.
Taylor feels otherwise, but Madison is stubborn and unconvinced. While Madison gets ready for her date and hen party/bachelorette party and Taylor and friends all go to the Tomato festival. They are supposed to throw tomatoes at each other and this scene gets hilarious fast as Taylor and Raf angrily sing Walking on Sunshine at each other. But even though they are upset, a little spark is kindled.
They go to the beach to clean up and Taylor sings about her feelings and how much she still cares with Eternal Flame. She kisses Raf and then after realizing what she has done, runs off.
Madison and Doug have an extremely romantic dinner in the Coliseum. But while it is everything she has ever wanted, Madison realizes that no-she doesn’t want Doug. This part, the wooing, the chase is what he does well but the commitment boyfriend part-not so much. She wants more.
She heads back home to get to her hen party/bacheleorette party when she runs into Raf and Taylor talking. Madison quickly puts together that the Italian guy from Taylor’s past is Raf. She is shocked, but Taylor quickly shares that yes he was, and that Raf wanted to tell but she convinced him not to. She is sorry that she was pulled along by the memories and kissed him b-but she does not have feelings for him anymore.
Madison loves and trusts her sister so the girls get dressed up like Tina Turner and Madonna and the boys like Boy George. They go out singing Girls Just Wanna Have Fun/The Wild Boys. After the night out Taylor realizes she does love Raf and leaves for the airport-as she can’t stay and cause trouble between her sister and him. She loves her sister more and wants her to be happy.
Meanwhile, after the party, Doug is waiting at the villa to try and seduce Madison by singing Faith. Madison tries to fight him off, almost gives in, and is surprised by a proposal by Doug.
Lil went to the airport with some pilots she met and discovers that Taylor there. Lil convinces Taylor to come back as she is the only family that Madison has, and she needs to be there. They hurry to White Wedding.
Taylor does come, but the groom is missing as one of his friends drunkenly taped him to a tree. He does get there and the wedding goes on, with Doug trying to object to it and being ignored.
They are going to say I Do, when Madison actually stops the wedding. She realizes that she doesn’t know who she is-she came to Italy to get over a love and just went right into another relationship. She turns him down as she doesn’t love him, but loves love. She cares for him but realizes that someone else truly is in love with him.
Raf is furiously heartbroken. First one girl rejects him, and after three years he opens himself to love another girl, who rejects him.
Taylor decides to finally take a chance and goes after him-telling him she has loved him for the last three years and wish she never left him in Turn Back Time.
We end on a happy note with Raf and Taylor reunited, Doug after Madison but she choosing to be single and figure out what she wants, Elena and Enrico discover they are going to hve a baby, and Lil and Mikey together with Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.
So in a lot of ways it feels like this movie was copying Mama Mia. We don’t know a lot about the characters-whos is the younger or older (I’m assuming Madison is older), what Taylor was studying in school, what Madison does/why she is in Italy, etc. But the story was cute and the music is awesome as I like the songs.
But why do I recommend it for Jane Austen fans?
The first thing it made me think of was Sense and Sensibility. We might not know a lot about Taylor, but all the characters comment and allude that Taylor is the logical, responsible, and practical one. She never lets loose, she is never one to take chances or risks, only does what is a sure thing. She had a fling in Italy on her holiday and the guy asked her to stay with him, and she thought about it-but she knew she could never do it as it isn’t sensible or practical. Of course she needed to go back to her real life and university. The rest of the film she plays it the same way until the very end when she realizes she does want to open her heart-she does want to take a risk and fall in love-not knowing if it will work out-she throws all that aside and takes a leap.
Madison on the other hand is such a Marianne. She is emotional, is in love with love, and doesn’t make the best decisions when it comes to men. Taylor lists off her past relationships and Madison is just a romantic and can’t resist L’amore. Before Raf she was perviously dating a rascally rogue (played by Greg Wise [who was Willoughby in Sense and Sensibility (1995]). I mean she hardly knows Raf, but loves him and is getting married. I like that they made Madison not dumb as they often do (a smart sister and pretty sister) but she was just hopeful and trusting-things that Marianne also shared. I liked how we saw her progression of character as she decides she doesn’t need to throw herself into another relationship, but to figure out who and what exactly she wants.
Madison in the end has learned to temper her feelings and use sense, while Taylor to open herself up and release her sensibilities.
One thing the movie did really was show the way the death of their mother affected the girls. While the loss of their mother made Madison search for love and ultimately be a little too desperate in her search for happiness, Taylor has become more closed off to love as she doesn’t want to lose anyone. While the characters of Elinor and Marianne were formed to events prior to their father’s death, it made me wonder if that affected Marianne in her pursuit of love. Maybe Marianne wouldn’t have thrown herself so hard at Willoughby if they had their father around, maybe she wouldn’t have been so overtly searching for love if she didn’t have a hole from her loss.
The other thing I liked about this was that I thought it also echoed the sisterly love and devotion we see in Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice. Both the Bennets and Dashwoods care about their sisters and will keep secrets to protect them, nurse them, do anything they can for them. In this Taylor wants to protect her sister and have her be happy, so she doesn’t tell her the truth about how she feels for Raf. She goes to the wedding to be there for her sister, even though watching her love marry someone else is more painful than anything. At the church steps Madison gets cold feet, but Taylor just encourages and supports her. Madison shows the same love and devotion when she refuses Raf, knowing they would have a wonderful happy life together-but he’d have a better one with Taylor his true love.
This film also made me think of Persuasion. In Persuasion, Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth fell in love and were engaged, but Anne ended it as she was persuaded it wasn’t a good decision. They are young, he’s going off to war, he could die, her father wouldn’t like it or help her, etc. Years later, she has never married and Frederick has returned-a captain and is hurt over the past. They are put together in situations and it can be very awkward. In fact, the awkward tension the dinner table in Walking on Sunshine made me think of the scenes when they are thrown together in Persuasion. Not to mention seeing the person you love into someone else.
That last scene of Raf and Taylor singing Turn Back Time, I wish someone would recut Persuasion with it because it was perfect. In Persuasion, Captain Wentworth realizes he was a fool and still loves Anne, has only loved her, and writes her a beautiful love letter. In this Taylor does what she said she would never do-she sings her love for Raf from the rooftops.
If interested, this film is on Amazon Prime.
For more Non-Austen Films for Austen Fans, go to Super Power Girl, Blackmail, Gangsters, and a Serial Kidnapper: Strong Woman Bong Soon (2017)
For more ’80s music, go to Darcy’s ’80’s Power Song
For more Greg Wise, go to Sense and Sensibility (1995)
For more musicals, go to Pride & Prejudice: A New Musical