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
Cesira is a beautiful widow and a successful grocery store owner in Rome. WWII is raging, and she fears for her beloved daughter, 13-year-old Rosetta, amid the daily bombings. They travel to the village where Cesira was born, where Cesira believes they will be safer. There, they are happy even as food dwindles. A young intellectual, Michele, falls in love with Cesira, who is too consumed with the well-being of her daughter and their survival to return his timid advances. As the allies advance, Cesira decides to return to Rome - and encounter the horrors of war at last.Written by
A magnificent film about how human bonds redeem us from ourselves
I gave this film 9/10 while understanding its weaknesses. First, as others note, the print is the worst I've ever encountered sometimes turning faces into gray pudding, but the problem was not so great to keep me from responding fully to the film's power, and I decided to evaluate the film rather than the print. I have more serious concerns about events at the film's climax which raise issues which are resolved too quickly. In fact these issues might be the subject of a whole new film, and if treated here they would require another hour of play time. The films hasty resolution of these issues makes important behaviors seem poorly motivated and unbelievable. However, the issues in question are not the central issues of the movie. When Cesira apologizes to her daughter (and at other points) I was left sobbing in spite of the film's failure to properly address the daughter's final trauma. This is not a about recovering from trauma. Rather, it is a film about human fallibility and self-deception or, as Michele puts it, "You can't escape, not even from yourself." Cesira faults others while never examining her own behavior. Like those around her, she acts only to preserve her own immediate interests. At the other extreme. Michele's idealism prevents him from realizing his own humanity. Only Rosetta demonstrates the purity to see beyond self-interest, and the instinct to truly tell right from wrong. Her downfall is the tragedy of the film. Yet through all of this the film shows us how, when pushed to extremes, these people are capable of forging deep human bonds. Such bonds have the power to redeem all as they finally redeem Rosetta. I can't conclude without adding my own appreciation for Sophia Loren's extraordinary performance.
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