Violent Life (1962)
"Una vita violenta" (original title)

 |  Drama
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Tommaso, giovane di borgata, per conquistare l'amore di Irene organizza una serenata che finisce in una rissa, durante la quale ferisce un uomo con un coltello. Viene arrestato e condannato... See full summary »


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Credited cast:
Serena Vergano ...
Enrico Maria Salerno ...
Bernardini - the trade-union representative
Angelo Maria Santiamantini ...
Benito Poliani ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Micaela Dazzi
Alfredo Leggi
Piero Morgia ...
Paola Petrini ...
La suora


Tommaso, giovane di borgata, per conquistare l'amore di Irene organizza una serenata che finisce in una rissa, durante la quale ferisce un uomo con un coltello. Viene arrestato e condannato ad alcuni mesi di carcere. Durante la permanenza nella casa di pena, si ammala di tisi. Ricoverato in sanatorio, conosce un sindacalista comunista, che si interessa a lui e lo esorta e lo aiuta a prendere coscienza, sociale e politica. Tommaso si rimette in carreggiata e decide di sposare Irene. Un giorno, per salvare una donna, si getta nelle acque gelide dell'Aniene, ma questo gesto di altruismo e di coraggio gli provoca una ricaduta della malattia e, poco dopo, la morte. Written by rosebud6

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Thuggish Franco Citti falls in love with Serena Vergano and tries to break out of poverty
16 August 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Una Vita Violente" (A Violent Life) is a late neo-realist film that is not well-known, but it is available in a region 2 DVD with English subtitles for an average price.

It does not appear on any list of neo-realist films that I could find. But it has many qualities of this class of films. The milieu of the story is the poorer sections of the Lazio district and Rome, including shanties that flood out in heavy rain, rows of apartment houses (projects), the streets and highways, barren fields inhabited by bums, a club, a theater, and so on. The characters, depicted unsentimentally, are mostly lower middle class or lower class. The element of surprise occurs throughout, which is part of the naturalistic way of neo-realist films. In Italian neo-realism, political-religious elements sometimes enter. In this case, the protagonist Tommaso is shown seeing a Catholic priest for help in improving his situation, and that priest has helped his parents get into a new apartment. Tommaso also debates joining the Democrat party or the Communist party, and he is drawn to the latter.

The cinematography is perhaps more sophisticated or artistic than in early neo-realist films. There is the location photography, but also there are noirish night scenes, lit very carefully, and there are architectural views and set-ups done carefully.

The film makes a definite impact emotionally in its depiction of a tragic life, while offering no answers and making no judgments, but I would say that this impact is somewhat muted by how we as viewers are often "looking in" or "looking at" the life of Tommaso, rather than being drawn into it empathetically. Unlike some Italian films, this one doesn't make you cry. A kind of a heartless society is being shown, that has a kind of indifference, not a complete indifference, but a half-hearted one. The main sparks of attachment are between Tommaso and his violent chums at the outset, then to his girl friend Serena, and later to some protesters who are presumably communists. He reaches out in attempts to better his position but fate or bad luck, including illness, intervenes in a noirish way. And he actually is courageous. We as viewers do get drawn in, but the film doesn't overdo it by device or artifice.

I recommend this film for fans of neo-realism in particular, and film noir fans will also find the film compatible with their tastes. It really should appear in the neo-realist canon. I felt that seeing it was a real find.

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