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>
As I watched Umberto D., by Oscar nominated actor and legendary Oscar winning director Vittorio De Sica, I knew clearly one thing for certain- Carlo Battisti, playing the role of retired civil servant Umberto Domenico Ferrari, is the most convincing non-professional actor in any given decade of European movie-making. He knows the purpose De Sica is after within every ounce of his soul (one can see it repeatedly in his eyes, the small mannerisms)- this is a story of loss, sad yet in an outlook and outcome that is cruel up to a point and never fiddles with the viewer's emotions dishonestly. Therefore, one can see him, in a sense, for what he is- he's us, merely you and I at the end of our lines of life with one wrong step sent to us after another.
Battisti's Umberto is retired, known fairly among his past employees, and living in a dank, infested one room who seems to be on the standard downward spiral for such a neo-realist effort (indeed, like The Bicycle Thief, many of the elements against him are from society's natural pitfalls). His health starts to go, as he gets a fever, and is sent unsympathetically to the hospital and returns to find the place being torn at each wall. The landlady wants him out, since she will only accept full rent instead of partial rent, and the maid of the house (Maria Pia-Casillo), while kind and friendly, lives in a similar prism of fear and emptiness. However, even she can't help him in the financial difficulties. This leads him out into the streets outside of Rome, where the film plays out like a Chaplin movie, without the humor and female companion- only with his best friend in the world, a little dog named Flag.
By the 3rd act of this epitome of heartbreaker movie-making, a quote passed through my head that Michelangelo Antonionni once stated: The actor is a moving object. That sentence, I can guess, is true of Battisti, as well as for his little dog. Aldo Graziati's camera follows him and his companion like another piece of the frame, which makes our focus on them all the more compelling. They're just their, acting the ways an old man and his pet act with one another, which is care and devotion. Battisti, in turn, delivers for De Sica an over-whelming performance of emotion. The very last scene is one of the definitive milestones of the movement at the time in Italy - despite it all; a relationship between a man and his "best friend" can be stronger in desperate times than a man can have with a fellow human being. Truly, this ending is quite suitable for one of the best films of it's time, and for De Sica a memorial tribute to his father. A++
53 of 58 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this