Incredibly powerful. Not sure why this one hasn't gotten as much acclaim as Bicycle Thieves. Maybe Shoeshine doesn't get out on the street enough. De Sica sure knows how to get some great performances from children and young actors.
The film that put De Sica at the heart of the Italian neo-realist movement is undoubtedly a humanistic masterpiece of European cinema. Its subject is two young boys struggling to earn money on the streets of post-war Rome in order to fulfil their dream of buying a horse. When a black market deal goes wrong and they are sent to a juvenile prison, the brutal regime puts their friendship to the test. Utter brilliance...
An all around tragedy, from the poverty on the streets, to the adult criminals who take advantage of the children, to the adult jailers who care for not much else than maintaining their order and not being punished by their superiors, to the strife being in prison brings, until it comes full circle when you decide to further the momentum of the cycle.
A masterpiece with poetic performances from all the kids, this film leaves a splinter in the heart. A deep look at friendship, money, social politics & human will.
I've just watched SHOESHINE tonight for the first time thanks to a British DVD which presents SCIUSCIA in a pristine copy. Post WWII in Italy seen through the eyes of children and teens who try to survive in a world of adults who don't see them anymore or, worst, use them. It reminded me at times of Truffaut's THE 400 BLOWS. Highly recommended.