4.5 stars. Less realist and more fabulist that its designation as 'neorealist' would imply, but the two central performances are so emotionally convincing that you only feel whatsoever manipulated in retrospect [in this way, it reminds me of Ghibli's 'Grave of the Fireflies']. I wonder if it's an especially male thing to do, but I couldn't help but read my relationship with my own dad into the film. Weepily sincere.
Like a shaggy dog version of Kurosawa's 'Stray Dog', 'Bicycle Thieves' is an understated articulation of issues accompanying life in Italy's post-war economic depression. It also reminds me a bit of 'M' in the way it lays out why someone could completely and utterly fail to overcome the criminal element in a crowded city. I can see why it meant so much to the Italian neorealist movement.
A thoughtful, kind-hearted, deeply compassionate movie about the plight of the common man that is also, well, kinda boring. It has some really nice moments but a lot of it feels a bit flat to me, lacking that certain punch or panache it needed to win me over. A movie I can respect, while not especially enjoying. It gets a B-.
Quite simply a masterpiece in every way. The acting is heart aching and beautiful and one believes this is life itself. So wonderfully shot and tenderly put together, this film left me speechless. Its enduring power owes much to the father and son relationship, one which is unparalleled and rarely explored and treated as tenderly as it is here. My heart was breaking at the finale, and a little broken still.
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.