What happens in Italy does not stay in Italy, my friends.
Let that be a word to the wise. This summer, Lifetime has their Book to Screen Saturday movies, and on the list was Adriana Trigiani’s Very Valentine starring Kelen Coleman from Big Little Lies.
The real star of the movie was Jacqueline Bisset as the coolest, prettiest, and most awesome grandmother around, Teodora. Um, excluding my grandmother, of course.
She was vibrant, full of life, and a blast for the entire movie. Also, the family dynamics of this movie were all over the place, but Gran and Valentine working, living, and going on vacation together (as well as finding their love in Italy together) was the type of modern famiglia quality content I adore.
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Unlike the rest of her big family, Valentine was the only one who seemed to appreciate their family history and the family business. The family business is that of making shoes, specifically wedding shoes.
The Angelini family history was that of a poor, cobbler from Tuscany who came to America with a dream and worked his butt off to reach it. One-hundred years of the Angelini family making the best wedding shoes for brides-to-be from hand.
It's endearing, sweet, and gave you the warm and fuzzy feelings. Their small business was charming but unfortunately not lucrative. It sucked that Valentine was the only one to show genuine interest in trying to maintain it.
Did the others not understand how everything old is new again and the overall push to support small businesses? Did they not understand how vintage is appreciated these days?
Jeebus, they were disappointing, particularly Alfredo (Yes, they outdid themselves with the Italian names) who didn't give a damn about the century-old business and why Valentine would want to carry on their family legacy and only cared about selling the place and being done with it all.
Valentine Voiceover: You would think someone name Valentine would be good at romance, but you would be wrong.
Ugh, they had no vision nor any imagination. The sisters were wrapped up in their families, and Alfredo was too busy flaunting his business degree.
That left Valentine as the single sister (which went over better than expected in a large Italian-American family when they only tried to set her up once), and, of course, as the sister who ate, slept, and breathed shoe-making.
Valentine: Nothing is more fun than being single at a wedding!
I wish she had more confidence in her abilities and learned the proper way to brand their business. If she even considered hiring a social media consultant for branding or, I don't know, attempted to use any form of social media at all to bolster their business, they probably wouldn't have been in the red.
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We're in the age where people binge episodes of "Say Yes to the Dress" unabashedly, and everyone has an appreciation for vintage. Hell, she lived in Jersey, if anyone who went to the bedazzle queen responsible for all of those dresses on My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, saw one of the Angelini shoes, their company could've been set for life!
But then we wouldn't have this lovely story, so we had to come to grips with the fact that someone as young as Valentine couldn't be bothered with self-promoting on Twitter or something. She needed flaws, after all.
Valentine was the typical protagonist you cannot help but adore. She spoke her mind but had the awkward thing that made her endearing, and she would find herself in some embarrassing situations which turn out to be cute more than anything else.
She was relatable. Anyone who had to endure a wedding and reception while wearing heels and spanx in the middle of the summer could probably understand Valentine stripping out of her bridesmaid dress on the rooftop and cooling off.
What most of us cannot relate to, however, is catching the eye of a handsome up and coming chef who we should've suspected was a world-class douchebag when he kept gawking at her naked from afar instead of averting his eyes as a respectable gentleman would.
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If I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, it went out the window when he met her in person and went out of his way to let her know he was the one who saw her on the rooftop before asking her for a date.
Roman: You really shouldn't be ashamed of your body. You're lovely.
Roman was meant to be charming, and in some ways he was, but he came out of the gate on the problematic side. Sure, he had the roguish good looks, and who doesn't love a man who can cook? But he was inherently self-involved from the moment Valentine met him.
She should've trusted her instincts. Ladies, please, always trust your instincts. I still have whiplash from how she went from "I'm too busy, immune to your charms, and in no need of a man" to his girlfriend in a blink of an eye.
Oh, right, the meddlesome sisters, mother, and grandmother had something to do with it. In that sense, the Angelini family embodied the stereotypical Italian-American family to the point of amusement.
Seriously, they brought out every hokey Italian-American trope they could cram in as subtly as possible from the large family who can't mind their business to cracks about *gasp* not making pasta sauce on your own, to the bad Italian and worse accents.
Speaking of shoddy Italian, this movie was the perfect opportunity to brush up on the long-abandoned Italian I learned yesteryear, but I still cannot get over how atrocious the accents were. Is it me or did Roman sound like a two-bit Italian mobster from Boston (although they were in Greenwich?) doing a Joe Pesci impersonation? Just me?
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Roman had a lot going for him, but it was evident from early on he and Valentine were not meant to be. Everything was about him all of the time, and what he said or decided was law in his mind.
He was the one who decided they were dating without even speaking to Val about it. He forced her to do things like wake up at an ungodly hour to go to the Farmer's Market with no notice to broaden her horizons.
He fell in love with her when he realized she could cook and didn't mind pitching in when he was understaffed. From the moment he saw her in the kitchen wearing that same apron he made her wear when he put her to work on their first date, he decided Val was going to his picture-perfect wife by his side, cast in his shadow.
He was dismissive of her shoe-making as if it were a hobby, and he never anticipated her to thrive nor wanted her to do so. Her entire family legacy was hanging by a thread, and it wasn't his concern since it didn't affect him.
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Val wasn't perfect in their relationship. For starters, she did make some sweeping generalizations when she claimed she didn't date Italian men because of their infidelity. She was jealous before she had reason to be when she found out his ex-Sienna was in the picture.
But overall, the two of them were not compatible at all, and it's a shame neither of them paid attention to the signs from the beginning.
Nothing about Valentine should've tipped Roman off that she would be happy as his doting housewife, and Val should've noticed Roman was never interested in anything about her hopes and dreams.
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The Universe was showing her a sign when they were interrupted due to his business when she was trying to tell him about her fateful meeting with the dragon fashion lady who challenged her with making a shoe for some high-fashion dress that looked like a cross between a Bjork ensemble and something a cavewoman would wear.
To be fair, she wasn't quite the dragon lady as I assumed by the end of the movie. However, between the Anna Wintour-esque way she carried herself and her haircut, we knew this was a woman with her finger on the pulse of high fashion.
The opportunity she gave Val and Teodora couldn't be passed up, and it was the potential saving grace for their business, something which would've kept Teodora from entertaining the $10 million offer the broker gave her for the entire building.
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I loved everything Val stood for and what she was trying to do, but she could've downsized the business, moved somewhere else, and had her grandmother take the $10 million. She loved their location because of it being her home, and it was there for years, but sometimes you need to do something new and make it work.
Despite being in the red, Teodora and Val had enough dough to drop everything and take a trip to Tuscany for some inspiration. If only the rest of us could be so lucky.
Little did Val know, Teodora's visits to Italy had more to do with her getting her groove on with the dashing Domenico. Gran had the most fun this entire movie. Her business was in shambles, but she gave nary a damn; she knew she had some grade-A Italian beef waiting for her.
She kept up appearances to indulge Val all of this time. Gran was the best, you guys. Plus, you could not blame this woman for getting caught up in the magic of Tuscany. It was gorgeous, and if ever there was a place to find inspiration, it was there.
Tuscany is where the magic happened, and no, I'm not talking about Gran and Domenico's late night rendezvous or Val having the misfortune of walking in on her grandmother in flagrante getting some sweet loving from her Italian Stallion.
No, Tuscany is where Val met Domenico's handsome son Gianluca. Yes, his name was Gianluca. With all of these stereotypical Italian names, I'm sad to report my personal favorite Giovanni never made it into this movie.
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Gianluca was a contrast to Roman right away, but oddly enough, he never came across like a romantic contender until, honestly, he never did. It didn't stop me from rooting for Mr. Steal yo girl though, so do what you have to, Gianluca.
Gianluca was a tanner, which meant he too had an appreciation for leather and was good with his hands. Euphemisms and innuendo not intended.
He was an artist like our girl Val, and he was mostly responsible for her finding the inspiration she needed for the once in a lifetime shoe that could save their family business.
Gianluca was a laid back guy, once you got past the accent which was eerily reminiscent to the time Grey's Anatomy's Justin Chambers played the lovable Mossimo in that Jennifer Lopez rom-com (The Wedding Planner) where she too played a single Italian woman with big dreams.
He was a craftsman who also ran the family business in Tuscany. He showed her how to emboss leather, and they rode around on a mo-ped (as one does in Europe). Their unofficial first date took place at a monastery, and his wife left him for some guy named Vincenzo or something.
I mean, Gianluca was a catch. Plus, he didn't seem to have a problem with this loud, chatterbox American woman who kept going on and on about shoes. He rolled with it as chill as can be.
The one issue with their casual flirting was it was too casual. In our minds, we knew he was a romantic foil to Roman because of it being an unofficial rule here, but when even Val was surprised when he planted a smooch on her, it says something.
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Their interactions were that of a typical, charming, flirting Italian guy being kind to a family friend. He didn't do anything above and beyond to suggest he caught feelings for her.
Even then, he was better than Roman though, who didn't show up in Tuscany after promising to visit because of a career opportunity.
Ironically, I can't fault Roman for ditching a trip to Tuscany for an unexpected opportunity to be featured on a notable magazine. Val was upset, which was fair, but she was also angry, which wasn't.
What else was he supposed to do? It would've been foolish if he gave up the opportunity when she was out pursuing one herself. They should've ended things upon her return.
Instead, they dragged things out, where he didn't pay attention to how unsettled and unconfident she was about the shoe she turned in for consideration, and he kept telling her stupid things about how she could work beside him at his restaurant for the rest of their life.
Roman had their life mapped out as if they hadn't been dating for 32 seconds and some change instead of encouraging her as a good boyfriend would do. Gianluca would have done it, dammit.
Teodora: Upstairs. You have to be happy upstairs. That is where you live and that is where you love.
Between Roman's lack of support and Gran's tumble down the stairs which landed her in the hospital, Val pretty much gave up on her dreams and gave Gran her blessing in regards to selling the place.
I can't say I blame her, since Gran was looking all kinds of adorable in the hospital bed, and I would've given her everything she wanted and some after such a scare too.
She went through the trouble of calling Domenico to the States to be by Teodoro's side. What kind of flights are these people catching anyway?
Our boy Gianluca accompanied his father because he's perfect. If we didn't know it already, the iconic energy he exuded when Val and Roman kissed at the hospital confirmed it.
His face was that of an unbothered man who knew he would bag the girl by the end of the movie, so Val and Rome could continue pretending as if they were meant for each other when Gianluca and the rest of us knew better.
As customary, they both stayed at Teodora and Val's home/business, and there was a surprising lack of hanky-panky or awkward moments. I'm a little disappointed they didn't exploit the opportunity.
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Poor Val made peace with losing her family business, and the family gathered around for one last Sunday dinner, and I was envious I couldn't be part of this big family and among all that delicious food.
I have to give Dragon Lady credit for a fashionably late appearance to Angelini's Shoes to tell Val she not only won the competition but that she wanted a shoe line.
I guess the paperwork meant nothing, but we shall overlook all the glaring issues and appreciate the moment when Teodora ripped the contract to shreds and the family celebrated the news.
I guess Val was no longer concerned about Teodora climbing all those stairs then?
If they didn't nail home that Roman is the worst, the way he ran off to sulk on a stoop after the news solidified it. He couldn't even give Val a moment to be happy before he ran off to pout like a child forcing her to follow him to soothe his ego.
He was disappointed she had the opportunity of a lifetime. In his mind, she was only supposed to be a supporting character in his feature moments. The joke was on him though, since he didn't realize this story was all about Val (and Teodora).
He planned on her forgoing her dreams to help him accomplish his, and he's worse than the philanderer she assumed he would be, he's selfish and a dream-killer.
Valentine: It's pretty crazy when one person's dream comes at the expense of another.
At least Val saw him for what he was and kicked him to the curb though. Good riddance, sir sulk-a-lot. Surely, he'll find a groupie who would happily play his trophy wife.
Just as Val said, you cannot turn a shoemaker into a sous chef, Roman!! And before Val could catch her breath after climbing those stairs back up to Gianluca's room she decided he was the love of her life, and she needed him.
I know we love a happy ending, but ten seconds after breaking up with Roman, she was baring her soul to Gianluca. The guy didn't even have to try to woo her. He was nice to her, and she fell in love.
Valentine: I went to Italy to find inspiration, but I think I found more than that. I found someone I expect to spend my life with. I found you.
I'm still trying to figure out when love came into the equation. Nevermind that, she's in love, and she needs his skill set since she has a new shoe line to run.
Gianluca didn't put up much of a fight, so of course, he gave into her love confession. In their world, immigration and visa issues are nothing, so Gianluca was able to drop everything of his life in Tuscany and stay there with Valentine helping her complete her shoe line in three months.
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Roman could never be that supportive.
They even made it to the wedding day. No, not their wedding day; it was Domenico and Teodora's wedding day!
All I'm saying is Val and Gianluca were cute and everything, but the real love story in this movie was between Teodora and Domenico.
Alright, my cheesy Lifetime movie-loving TV Fanatics.
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Did you happen to catch this fun movie? What are your thoughts!
By all means, go on and hit the comments below!
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.
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