The Venice Murders (2023 Lifetime)
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Director: Lane Shefter Bishop
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Synopsis (via Lifetime)
Leaving behind a successful career, Celia pursues an art degree in Italy hoping to find her true passion–only to have her new roommate go missing, the local man she’s dating a prime suspect. All alone in an unfamiliar country, she’s forced to team up with her eccentric expat Aunt Rosa, estranged from the family decades before, to save her friend and bring the kidnapper to justice. Stars Sophie Hopkins, and Darcy Grey (2023).
The movie begins with a gondola passing by a woman screaming for help. She runs through the ally and right into her murderer, who kills her while she is begging for her life.
Flash to LA two weeks later, Celia packs a bag for a study abroad while her mother worries aloud about people being murdered in Venice while hiding her daughter’s passport. That doesn’t stop Celia from roaming the streets of Italy with a big floppy hat and oversized sunglasses. (Like she is in Under the Tuscan Sun.) She meets a handsome man named Matteo, who speaks perfect English. Matteo shows Celia around and tells her about the history of Venice. Specifically about Marco Polo, he asks if she is in town for love or art. He asks to be her guide around the city.
Celia rolls her empty suitcase into the hotel and admires the view from her room. She meets a flatmate named Evie, who is like the Sporty Spice of the group. They drink prosecco and get to know one another. Celia tells Evie about Matto and says that he is a cutie.
The girls go to art class and are annoyed with being cooped up all day in class. Evie asks Matto to take them out for the night. Celia remembers that she has an aunt who lives in the area, and they stop to say hello, but no one answers the door. They go to “the best bistro in Venice,” and the girls are super sketched out. Matteo assures them it is okay, even if no one is there and it is in a bad neighborhood.
Evie heads off to bed because she is feeling like the third wheel. Celia offers to walk Evie home and goes after her after making out with Matteo for a bit. When they get downstairs, Evie is nowhere to be seen. Matteo and Celia try to catch up with Evie, but Matteo intentionally takes them the wrong way. Evie’s scarf floats in the canal as they pass by.
Evie doesn’t show up for classes the next day, and Celia thinks it is because she is mad at her for macking on Matteo. She continues to call throughout the day, becoming more and more frantic. Matteo shows up and has some chest tattoos! He promises to help, and Celia becomes concerned that they aren’t going to the same restaurant. Celia gets a call that the police want to talk with her, and Matto bails.
While talking with the police, they are surprised to learn that Matto claimed to be with the school. The police say he is probably a con artist. The details about the restaurant are also hazy and probably a con. The police have Celia call Matteo, whose number isn’t in service. Evie is a heiress to a large fortune and was most likely kidnapped for ransom.
Celia puts on her big-ass sunglasses and goes to where she met Matto. She sees him conning another American tourist. The spy mission is interrupted by Dante, the chef from the restaurant. He chases her, and she drops her cell phone, trying to call for help. Evie runs to a roof, hitting her head, and she evades capture. Aunt Rosa takes her in very randomly!
Aunt Rosa wears a full-on house coat and is who I aspire to be. She is confused about WHY Celia is in her home and doesn’t seem concerned about the kidnappers. Aunt Rosa wants to know more about Celia’s mother and what trash she is talking about her.
Meanwhile, the kidnappers argue over what to do with Evie and are generally hot. Dante’s real name is Lorenzo, and he worries about Celia identifying them. (He should be!)
Celia talks to the police again with Aunt Rose, and they see a ransom video sent out of Evie. Aunt Rose is determined to figure out the case and uses local contacts to help her, including a woman at a market and an old boyfriend.
The boyfriend serves up some wine and helps them track down the kidnapped friend by locating the Bistro. (The boyfriend is a foodie and can tell the spot by the menu details.) Celia overhears her Aunt talking about how stressful having her niece has been and sneaks out to finish looking for the kidnappers on her own. Aunt Rosa calls her sister and asks for help. They make amends and apologize for mistreating one another.
Celia goes straight to the source and asks Matteo why he conned her and kidnapped Evie at his Bistro. Matteo admits that his father was an alcoholic, and they inherited the restaurant and his debt. Celia tells Matteo that he has to let Evie go, and she promises not to go to the police. Then Aunt Rosa shows up and spooks Matto off.
Aunt Rosa finally shares what ruined her relationship with Celia’s mother. Apparently, she set the house on fire while babysitting Celia. (I mean, that IS pretty bad!)
Matto unties Evie and helps her escape; she is dopped up on Ketamine, and they don’t get far. Dante catches them, and he brothers argue. They struggle over a knife, and Matteo is stabbed to death by his brother accidentally? (Evie jiggles the door handle the whole time this touching moment happens).
Celia rushes in and tries to save Matteo, but he tells her to go help Evie, not him. Then he dies.
Dante takes Evie to his boat and locks her inside. He fights Celia on the dock, where she defends herself with a boat oar. They struggle, and Celia knocks Dante out with a piece of wood, and then she saves her friend as the sun sets.
Aunt Rose, Evie, and Celia enjoy some prosecco on the patio with a surprise guest! Celia’s mom! She will be staying for a while. They toast to Venice. So that is something.
Side Note/Stray Thoughts
It is a cautionary tale of studying abroad, but the movie also wants us to sympathize with Matteo. Wut????
Numbers of Kills: 🔪🔪 (2 knives)
Enjoyment Level (1-5 scale)
🍷🍷 (2 Glasses of Wine)
Should you watch it?
Pour it up! (Give it a shot)
Put a Cork in It (Skip It)
What did you think of the movie? Let me know in the comments or on social media @LifetimeUncorked & @patrickmiguel
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