Margarita Beth G. Morales
Rating : 8/10 ★★★★★★★★☆☆
Director: Vittorio De Sica
Screenplay: Cesare Zavattini & Vittorio De Sica
Initial Relsease: 20 January 1952 (Italy)
Running Time: 89 minutes
The film entirely follows Umberto Ferrari, a pensioner as he struggles his way in finding enough money to sustain his needs. Many of which is his rent for a room where he stays with his dog Flike and befriends Maria, the apartment’s housemaid. The landlady harshly demands him to pay his monthly dues before she is forced to evict him.
The film possesses a sense of sadness as we put ourselves in Umberto’s shoes. De Sica and Zavattini did a brilliant job in making the audience feel for Umberto. The overall feel made watchers follow his daily routine and sympathize with him at the same time greatly because these situations transpire in real life conditions. From being evicted from his room to reuniting with his dog, each scene was packed with tear jerking emotions that made the audience anticipate Umberto’s solace. This Italian neorealist film goes on by being thought provoking by touching the audience. It is so powerful that it is difficult not to be moved by the character’s emotions. Amidst the depressing state of the film, watchers are attached to it because of the light and slightly comedic exchange of words of characters mostly in scenes that feature Umberto and Maria. That is why I have come to a conclusion that Battisti gave justice to the role given that this is his first lead on screen appearance.
The narrative offered an exceptional story flow. As the film progressed, we get to see more of the daily happenings which made viewers understand why things go the way they were going. To add life to the tale, scenes are mostly set in the boarding house and the rest of the city almost as if we were beside Umberto from start to end.
Looking at the moralistic side, the film contained many lessons to live by. Above all, it taught the audience the value of friendship as we see Umberto’s strong relationship with Flike amidst the hardships he is dealing with. Moreover, the film is filled with actual and raw issues. One of the many would be poverty, the central theme of the movie where he fails to come up with fifteen thousand lire for rent even after selling some of his belongings in the busy streets of Rome and how he struggles to make ends meet. To think that he even forcefully got himself admitted to a hospital to survive a few days with adequate amount of food and medicine. Truly, penury was a great struggle in this movie since Umberto was not the only one who had to face it. This could be seen in the start of the movie where pensioners gathered in the street to form a demonstration to fight for their rights.
Although the ending of the film where he decides to end his life with Flike was hard to watch, it establishes the concept of companionship—that even though things get rough, they face things with the other by their side.