Two shoeshine boys in postwar Rome, Italy, save up to buy a horse, but their involvement as dupes in a burglary lands them in juvenile prison where the experience take a devastating toll on their friendship.
Vittorio De Sica
Umberto Ferrari, aged government-pensioner, attends a street demonstration held by his fellow pensioners. The police dispense the crowd and Umberto returns to his cheap furnished room which he shares with his dog Flick. Umberto's lone friend is Maria, servant of the boarding house. She is a simple girl who is pregnant by one of two soldiers and neither will admit to being the father. When Umberto's landlady Antonia demands the rent owed her and threatens eviction if she is not paid, Umberto tries desperately to raise the money by selling his books and watch. He is too proud to beg in the streets and can not get a loan from any of his acquaintances. He contracts a sore throat, is admitted to a hospital and this puts a delay on his financial difficulty. Discharged, he finds that his dog is gone and, following a frantic search, locates him in the city dog pound. His room has been taken over by the landlady and the now-homeless Unberto determines to find a place for his beloved dog, and ...Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
This film is part of the Criterion Collection, spine #201. See more »
In the kitchen of the landlady, when Umberto is chatting with the maid, she makes fire with a newspaper to get rid of the ants. After a few moments, we see that the newspaper is almost completely on fire, but in the next shot, less than half of the newspaper is on fire. See more »
Vittorio DeSica's wonderful "Umberto D" was one of the last films of the Italian neo-realism movement and by far its best one. It is also one of my favorite movies ever. The movie's premise is simple: it is a slice of the life of a poor lonely pensioner, Umberto. Throughout the movie, we see Umberto struggle to find money to pay rent to his horrible landlady, love his dog Flike, and deal with the loneliness and disillusionment of the postwar era.
"Umberto D" is a character-driven film. It works very well because of its sharp observations on loneliness and poignant gestures. The gestures evoke powerful feelings without necessitating dialogue. Many of the scenes, even the ones that do not necessarily advance the plot, are hypnotically beautiful in their simplicity. Take, for example, a beautiful scene where Umberto finally needs to beg for money but cannot physically bring himself to do it. He extends his palm up, but when a passer-by stops to give him money, Umberto quickly flips his hand over, as if testing for rain. The film is full of these small gestures that quietly emphasize the desperate loneliness and poignancy of Umberto's situation.
The acting in this film is absolutely superb. Carlo Battisti, despite having never acted before, is wonderful as the titular character; his face is a fascinating blend of stubborn dignity and weariness of life. Maria Pia-Casilio, who plays the maid, is just as good as evoking life's loneliness and quiet desperation. The supporting cast is also very strong.
One of the very few criticisms I have heard of this film is that it is too sentimental and borderline sappy. While some scenes with Umberto and his dog Flike are sentimental, never is it "too" sentimental. DeSica knows how far he can push his film without making it sappy, and he wisely shows it as it is. Nothing feels forced. The subject material itself and the simplicity in which it is presented will bring tears. (If you don't cry in this movie, you need to have your heart professionally de-thawed.) But "Umberto D" is never dumbed down into sappiness and clichéd corniness. It is a very powerful film.
"Umberto D" is the masterpiece of the Italian neo-realist era. It's a rather bleak and very realistic movie, but it makes some fascinating commentary on the human condition, specifically the loneliness we face. Highly, highly recommended. 10/10.
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