My House in Umbria

My House in Umbria is a 2003 HBO made-for-television movie, based on the novella of the same name by William Trevor and published along with another novella in the volume Two Lives. The film stars Maggie Smith and Chris Cooper, and was directed by Richard Loncraine.

My House in Umbria
My house in umbria film poster.jpg
Original theatrical poster
Directed byRichard Loncraine
Produced byRobert Allan Ackerman
Written byWilliam Trevor (original novel)
Hugh Whitemore (screenplay)
StarringMaggie Smith
Ronnie Barker
Chris Cooper
Timothy Spall
Giancarlo Giannini
Benno Fürmann
Music byClaudio Capponi
CinematographyMarco Pontecorvo
Edited byHumphrey Dixon
Distributed byHBO
Release date
  • 2003 (2003)
Running time
109 minutes
CountryUnited States


Emily Delahunty (Maggie Smith) is an eccentric British romance novelist who lives in Umbria in central Italy, where she runs a pensione for tourists. Mrs Delahunty settled in Italy to flee from a somewhat traumatic past which still haunts her, and lives alone apart from a few servants and her manager Quinty (Timothy Spall). One day while taking a shopping trip to Milano, the train she is on is bombed by terrorists. After she wakes up in a hospital, she invites three of the other survivors of the disaster to stay at her villa for recuperation. Of these are "the General" (Ronnie Barker) a retired British Army veteran, Werner (Benno Fürmann), a young German photographer, and Aimee (Emmy Clarke), a young American girl who has now become mute after her parents were both killed in the explosion.

As the group recover from their ordeal (in which the General lost his daughter, and Werner lost his girlfriend and suffered considerable burns to his arm and torso), the explosion is being investigated by Inspector Girotti (Giancarlo Giannini), a local policeman. Responding to the warmth and kindness of Mrs Delahunty and the others, Aimee begins to speak again, while the local authorities seek out any relatives who might be able to take her in. They eventually locate her uncle, Thomas Riversmith (Chris Cooper), a university professor in the US. He agrees to take Aimee back to the USA to live with his wife and himself, though they have little time for (and no experience with) raising children and are particularly concerned about trying to raise a child who has been through such a traumatic experience. Via flashbacks it is revealed that Mrs. Delahunty was an orphan who was molested as a child by her adoptive father. At a young age she fled England with a travelling salesman and spent years living as a prostitute before Quinty convinced her to move to Italy.

Mrs Delahunty grows to like her new housemates and invites the General and Werner to stay indefinitely. She also works hard to find common ground with Aimee's uncle and tries to convince him to leave Aimee with her in Italy rather than taking the child back to America to a loveless home. Meanwhile, Inspector Girotti discovers that Werner was involved in the terrorist attack on the train. Mrs Delahunty reluctantly admits that she has come to the same conclusion, but Werner departs in secret before he can be confronted. Although disappointed by the revelation, Mrs Delahunty is delighted to learn that the General intends to stay on and that Thomas has allowed Aimee to remain as well. The film ends with Mrs Delahunty embracing her new circumstances, having finally resolved her inner turmoil.

The plot departs substantially from that of William Trevor's somber novella.




  • Primetime Emmy Awards
    • Outstanding Made for Television Movie (nominated)
    • Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie (Smith, won)
    • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie (Cooper, nominated)
    • Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Dramatic Special (nominated)
    • Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Dramatic Special (nominated)
    • Outstanding Art Direction for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special (nominated)
    • Outstanding Casting for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special (nominated)
    • Outstanding Costumes for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special (nominated)
    • Outstanding Hairstyling for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special (nominated)
  • Golden Globe Awards
    • Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television (nominated)
    • Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television (Smith, nominated)

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