Over-demonstrative and over-simplified, plagued by naivety, clumsiness and an over-long, never-ending finale, poorly acted by good actors (the last straw!) and "boasting" among the worst make up effects for the year 2001, "Bella Ciao" is not a bomb for all these shortcomings, thanks to writer-director Stéphane Giusti's sincerity (this is the true story of his roots) and ambition (doesn't he try to epitomize the whole Italian immigration wave to 20th century France in a single story?) Giusti also occasionally manages to add spice to his narrative thanks to welcome touches of humor (The Statue of Liberty which turns out to be Marseilles' Notre Dame de la Garde; the baby's Moses basket carried away by the sea) as well as sudden outbreaks of violence (the fascist drowned in the toilet bowl).
Disappointing on the whole, this tale of a communist schoolteacher turned house painter, his wife and his family, deserves respect. It is a work the viewer would love to love but to which they can give only half their heart.
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