If you look at life through the eyes of an artist, it appears invigorating, no matter how many ups and downs and struggles it brings. The Netflix limited series “From Scratch” follows the lives of two artists, Amy Wheeler and Lino Ortolano, who happen to meet by chance and gradually fall in love with each other, leading to married life thereafter. In a way, the two completed each other. They understood the risks involved in each other’s professional careers yet embraced them with sincerity. Amy is a painter and a patron of art, and Lino is an Italian chef. Together they tackle every problem and savor every moment they spend together. So, let’s look at the hurdles that came in the lovers’ path and how they tackled them for the better.
Amy (played by Zoe Saldaña), an American woman from Los Angeles, moved to Florence, Italy, to study sculpting and art. A young Sicilian man, Lino (played by Eugenio Mastrandrea), stumbles upon her on the elegant streets of Italy. Lino was a chef who showed his artistic individuality through his cooking. After their several encounters, Lino fell in love with Amy, but Amy was dating Giancarlo, the owner of a prestigious art gallery. Amy later realized that she preferred Lino over Giancarlo, so she confessed her love to Lino. Both of them connect like soulmates. Steadily, their relationship started to grow, and Lino decided to move to Los Angeles with Amy.
In America, Lino started working as a waiter in a restaurant, but he was not at all satisfied. He even felt isolated from Amy’s family, but she was always there for him. Amy discovered that Lino missed his motherland, so she took him to a bar to watch his favorite sport. Lino was pleased to see Amy take his side. They both desired to marry. As Lino’s family had abandoned him for marrying an American, Amy and Lino were married only in the presence of Amy’s family. Amy has already quit her job at an art gallery to teach children at an art school, and Lino has opened his own restaurant. Though life started to become happy, the peace of mind was short-lived. Lino was diagnosed with tissue cancer, leiomyosarcoma, in his knee. Amy and Lino decided to fight it together.
In the meantime, Lino’s parents found out about their son’s terminal illness and arrived in America to see him. Their families were finally reunited, and Lino, too, was able to bridge the gap between him and his father. Eventually, through chemotherapy and surgery, the doctors were able to remove the cancerous cells from his body, but the chances of a recurrence were high. Hence, Lino’s oncologist, Dr. Atluri suggested Lino enroll himself in a new medication study, which later helped him to minimize the chances. For a time, Lino’s body was cancer-free, yet doctors told him to continue testing and screening because cancer could come back at any time. The couple was happy for a time, but they knew they couldn’t live a life without any risk. “From Scratch” further explores their struggle while they deal with Lino’s terminal illness and try to stay happy amidst all odds.
Cancer is like an invisible monster who, once inside your body, will not leave you alone. Lino and Amy’s lives are turned upside down when an unwanted guest comes knocking the door. Lino left his homeland in Italy to start over in Los Angeles, but his creative identity seemed to have been lost somewhere along the journey. But Lino did not give up, as he always had an inspiring aura. He tried to recover his artistic sense through his food. Despite financial challenges, he pursued his desire to open his own restaurant, which was a success after a few days, but cancer struck and shattered his ambitions one by one. However, when Lino fully recovered through surgery and new medicine, he took a second chance to rebuild his career. He had difficulty walking ever since he underwent knee surgery, so he considered taking a culinary class instead of resting all day. He knew cancer may have returned, but he didn’t stop himself. He kept writing his recipes in a notebook that Amy had gifted him.
Lino was aware that cancer would eventually kill him, but he planned to keep himself alive through his creations. Eventually, after seven healthy years, Lino’s cancer returned to his body, this time in a major organ like the lungs. Lino, still, was upbeat. He organized himself even under the most difficult of circumstances. Amy was there for him the entire time. She might have left him and pursued her own career, but it was Lino whom she loved the most. Amy and Lino didn’t deserve any of this suffering, but the control of people’s lives and deaths was not in their hands. Amy renewed her insurance to give her husband the best treatment and facilities possible. Many physicians continued to check on Lino in the hospital, and it was eventually revealed that Lino’s liver had failed. Doctors informed them that any sort of treatment would not work on Lino anymore. Therefore, he was eventually taken home. Lino took one final look at the familiar faces who had gathered to greet him. He sobbed his heart out as he read his recipes in the notebook for the very last time. He would never be able to get up and cook again or take care of his wife and child, but his recipe book will live on like a memory. Lino finally took his last breath and bid his family goodbye. Cancer took Lino away from Amy and left a void, but she knew that life had to go on. Amy was utterly depressed after losing her husband, but she was not afraid to face the reality. The initial struggle she and Lino fought to rid themselves of cancer had not been successful the second time around, but they knew they had tried. So, it is wiser to fight and survive than to feel miserable about it. Thus, one’s character and mental development take place. Amy put herself together, knowing Lino would never be at rest if his loved ones suffered.
When Lino was first diagnosed with cancer, doctors made it clear that chemotherapy would destroy his sperm. So, they were advised to bank Lino’s sperm before the surgery. When Lino’s surgery was finally successful, Amy insisted that she wanted to be a mother. Lino and Amy immediately tried to conceive, but Amy’s doctor told her that it would be too risky for them to have a biological child. They considered IVF, but after Lino’s surgeries, prescriptions, and repeated visits to the hospital, Amy didn’t want to endure any more surgical procedures again. Both of them were mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted after what they had gone through. Therefore, at the end of the day, all they wanted was peace. Amy and Lino decide to adopt a child. For once, the couple did not worry about having a kid of their own blood, as most people do. So, they contacted an adoption agency and adopted a young mother’s infant, Rose. Rose was given the name Idalia. Idalia grew up in this lovely family of Amy and Lino, but unfortunately, cancer snatched Lino from her. Amy never hid Lino’s death or his struggle with cancer from Idalia. She knew that life and death were two natural phenomena in our lives whose existence and importance Idalia needed to understand. Idalia missed her father in his absence, but in the end, she decided to leave behind the painful past like her mother. She carried Lino’s memories with her as she moved on with her life.
Amy was devastated after Lino’s death. Though she knew one day she had to face the loss, it still saddened her gravely. She was so depressed that she stopped caring about her child, Idalia. Her sister Zora, who had always been by her side, stepped in to help. She explained that Amy needed to get out of bed and take charge of her life in order to go ahead. She had to raise Idalia as well. Amy realized her predicament might be resolved if she desired it to be. She traveled to Sicily, where Lino grew up. She took Idalia to meet her mother-in-law, Filomena.
Filomena was in agony as well, but she reassured her granddaughter that Lino was still there with them. He might still be there in Idalia’s heart when she grows up and cooks for her family. Lino would live through his notebook full of recipes that would one day be useful for Idalia. Filomena wanted Amy to settle down there, so she asked her to sign a property document. Amy disagreed because she believed she needed to pursue her career in Los Angeles.
Every street in Sicily made her reminisce about the good old times. She could feel her husband’s presence everywhere, so much so that she didn’t want to go back. Lino’s presence in her heart was something she longed to adore. She encouraged her daughter to sense the presence as well. Idalia remembered the story of Antonio that her father once told her. Lino told her how Antonio had never seen the goat again but that the goat was an invisible cord that was connected to Antonio’s heart. Idalia felt a similar connection with her father. Idalia and Amy understood it wasn’t a made-up scenario when they saw Antonio in Sicily. Amy remembered how much Lino had loved his homeland as he requested her to take his ashes to Sicily. Amy valued every word her husband ever said to her. She not only loved her husband, but she embraced his Italian culture, family, and mother tongue. She, therefore, concluded that Lino’s soul should be resting in his birthplace.
Amy gave Lino’s ashes to Filomena, but kept a pinch of it for herself, which she preserved in her locket as a way to keep Lino close to her heart. She eventually blew the ashes away, standing on a green farm in Sicily where Lino’s father once might have plowed. Therefore, she let Lino’s spirit walk free in this land. She finally found closure with the love of her life. No, she did not forget Lino, but she did not hold him anymore. She told Filomena she would sign the documents and would also come back to Sicily. Though “From Scratch” did not reveal if Amy did so, it was plausible that Amy would put her love ahead of her career. She saw Idalia had absorbed Italian culture, so she might not want to detach her daughter from her paternal place. She began her artistic journey in Florence and now ends up in Italy again, which may be seen as a sign that she will continue her artistic career from here, bearing Lino’s memories with her.
“From Scratch” is a touching series that portrays a couple’s journey from affair to ultimate dilemma. In a beautiful, weaved narrative, the series combines an artist’s struggle, marital stress, and one’s struggle for life amidst a terminal illness. The series is filled with excellent performances and aesthetically pleasing cinematography that will make you cry at least once. So, if you want to enjoy the romance while sobbing through the emotional scenes, “From Scratch” is a perfect pick.
“From Scratch” is a 2022 Drama Romance limited series streaming on Netflix.
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