The film follows the anguish of the four-year-old, Prico, after his mother, Nina, leaves his father, Andrea, for her lover Roberto. Prico is sent to his aunt and then to his grandmother. Nina returns when Prico is sick and vows to give up Roberto, even though he persists in seeing her. The family situation gradually improves until they take a holiday on the Italian Riviera. Written by
The Children Are Watching Us is for my money a better film than Bicycle Thieves - the unforgiving ending is certainly much harder hitting. Set in the last great summer of Fascist Italy, much of it intriguingly takes place in a Rome and a coastal resort that don't even notice there's a war going on: no shortages, no bomb damage, not even a single army uniform in sight, which in a way gives it a more timeless quality
even the apartment blocks its middle class characters live in can
still be found all over Italy. The story is a simple one, with a child caught in the middle of his parents dissolving marriage and finding his loyalties torn as his weak-willed mother constantly returns to her lover, but it's told with a surprising degree of naturalism. It also takes on an extra dimension with the knowledge that De Sica was himself having an affair when he was making it. Very impressive.
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