In the depressed post-WWII economy of Italy, a desperate but hopeful family man is on his first day of a new job, when his bicycle is stolen. With his wide-eyed son in tow, he sets off to track down the thief. A landmark in the Italian neorealist movement.
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A classic for good reason. A brutal setting that finds light relief in the expressiveness of Bruno's face. I do wish I had a time machine to experience it within the context of its era. Just to know, really know, how radical the neo-realist movement and the film was.
I can't deny the masterful potency of Bicycle Thieves, its moral clarity and the way that, although it's arthouse by default today, it could play to a crowd in '48. Part of my skepticism toward Italian neorealism has to do with its legacy, and the way so many modern festival pretenders gild the lily with over-the-top plot contrivances. De Sica's original knows that simple and mundane can have great emotional power.
I watched it because it's on TSPDT's list of the 1000 greatest films ever. I can appreciate it without actually liking it. It's that neo-realism thing that turns me off. It just seems like melodrama to me.