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Review: ‘From Scratch’ is a comfortable tale of real-life unexpected love

Graphic by Sarah Irwin

As a shameless lover of romance, when the limited series “From Scratch” was released on Netflix and received pleasant reactions from family and friends, I knew I had to watch it.

Based on the best-selling novel “From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily and Finding Home” by Tembi Locke, the show follows Zoe Saldaña as Amahle, or Amy, an American exchange student who goes to Italy for an art program in the early 2000s. In Florence, she falls in love with a Sicilian chef named Lino, played by Eugenio Mastrandrea.

Since the show is based on the experiences of a real person, it must be acknowledged as the intimate story of someone’s dearest memories. That being said, “From Scratch” feels familiar in its themes and portrayals.

For starters, Amy and Lino meet when she’s out with her friend and accidentally bumps into him. Subtle music plays in the background and time seems to stop as they gaze into each other’s eyes. The love-at-first-sight moment is a bit cliche, but certainly sets the tone for the remainder of the series.

Across eight episodes, the love story is decently paced, with each one detailing a different point in the couple’s relationship. Each point is crafted with care and well fleshed out by exploring the scope of the couple’s struggles along with the sweet moments mixed in between.  The humorous exchanges between their families are also enjoyable.

Saldaña is a seasoned actress, most known for her roles in blockbusters like “Avatar” and “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and does well opposite Mastrandrea. They have remarkable chemistry, which translates well into the progression of the love between Amy and Lino. It’s intense and heartwarming and I found myself not minding the emotional rollercoaster that ensued after tragedy strikes the lovebirds.

There were moments that felt predictable, some that lacked the necessary emotion and some that made me wish I had a box of tissues handy. The story never falls flat, but it took a few episodes for me to get into it and several sessions to finish what I wanted to be a series worthy of binge-watching.

The individuality and unique qualities of the characters are a highlight of the show, setting it apart from what’s already been done.

I was surprised and delighted to see an appearance by Italian actor Giacomo Gianniotti, who I know and love from his seven seasons on “Grey’s Anatomy.” He plays the wealthy son of art gallery owners who has a brief fling with Amy during her time in Italy.

Overall, “From Scratch” has elements of many of the romance movies and shows I’ve seen on Lifetime and Hallmark, but the story fortunately never becomes tired or boring. 

If you want to get swept up in the aftermath of a whirlwind romance and don’t mind shedding a few tears along the way, this might be the show for you. 

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