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.
One of the best films to come out of the neo realist movement and the greatest of De Sica's career. He came close later in his career but he never quite matched the humanity that he captured in this film.