An American jock discovers the macho thrill of historic Florentine football after his girlfriend dumps him in Evan Oppenheimer’s yawningly ordinary though superficially polished “Lost in Florence.” Shot in a Florence that’s never been so empty of tourists (either Oppenheimer isn’t good with crowds, or extras cost too much), this romantic drama largely devoid of drama sees the hunky lead, played with plenty of torn shirt or bare-chested desirability by Brett Dalton (“Agents of SHIELD”), get his life back on track through sport and the love of a charismatic Italian girl – even though, as we’re constantly told, Italian women are difficult. Bland even for the armchair traveler, “Lost” is as inoffensive as a picture-souvenir booklet, and equally unmemorable.
Eric (Dalton) is visiting his cousin Anna (Stana Katic) and her Florentine hubby Gianni (Marco Bonini) with his longtime girlfriend Colleen (Emily Atack). Unfortunately, his big romantic buildup falls flat when Colleen rejects his whopper of an engagement ring and flies back to the U.S., claiming the former college football star needs to drop his sports fantasies and go to law school. Crushed, the depressed Eric mopes around until Gianni takes him to a game of “calcio storico,” or historic football, which is basically a testosterone-heavy form of soccer in which players use almost whatever physical means necessary to prevent their opponent from scoring.
Suddenly Eric comes alive, postpones finishing his application to college in New York, and proves his mettle to team captain Paolo (Alessandro Preziosi). Yet nothing can take the place of Colleen in his heart – until he meets Paolo’s girlfriend Stefania (Alessandra Mastonardi), and despite not wanting to hurt his teammate, Eric and Stefania fall in love. Will they overcome their passion? Will Eric overcome nationalistic resistance to an American playing Florence’s traditional sport? Since everything else in this film is screamingly predictable, you can answer those questions yourself.
Oppenheimer (“A Little Game,” among others) takes a painfully American-centric view of Italy and Florence, with Gianni mouthing disparaging lines about the euro, and everyone – including American Anna – complaining that Italian women are difficult, which is almost as bad as repeating the canard that Mussolini made the trains run on time. Ironically the one person who’s not difficult at all (in fact, she’s the only truly real person in the entire movie) is Stefania, played by Mastonardi with fresh charm and a complete ease in English.
Visually, the film strives hard to privilege the postcard prettiness of Florence, though the only difference between the lensing and the average visitor’s snapshots is the bizarre lack of tourists, especially considering the film was shot in June, when the deluge of tourists is at its peak. Oppenheimer uses several dialogue-free montages for atmosphere, yet they all feel like filler, and the final soccer match is over before any excitement can build. And where on earth did the filmmakers get the idea that Leonardo da Vinci designed the historic soccer ball?