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13 days to watch
347 Ratings

Bitter Rice

Riso amaro

Directed by Giuseppe de Santis
Italy, 1949
  • Italian
  • English


On the run from the law, Francesca and Walter hide out with a group of peasant rice farmers, including naive country girl Silvana. As Francesca learns the challenges of working life, Silvana comes under Walter’s sway. When he decides to pull off a heist, Silvana is faced with a terrible decision.

Our take

De Santis’s classic, like Visconti’s Obsession, proves that cinema can combine neorealism with popular genres. Mixing views of agrarian challenges with florid melodrama, we get a portrait of Italy along with criminal thrills. So popular in America upon release it was parodied by I Love Lucy!

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A fascinating example of neorealist pulp.
April 26, 2019
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De Santis belonged to the younger generation of Italian neorealist filmmakers, who injected new vigor into the movement by engaging more fully with the tropes of established genres like the melodrama, the western, and the crime thriller. This approach comes to the fore in such pictures as Alberto Lattuada’s The Bandit (1946) and Pietro Germi’s Lost Youth (1948). But it is perhaps best, and most famously, exemplified by De Santis’s masterpiece Bitter Rice.
January 13, 2016
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Bitter Rice may rigorously structure several sequences with graceful tracking shots by cinematographer Otello Martelli, but the film is no mere stylistic curio or calling card, a result as equally due to the indelible performances of Mangano and Dowling, especially when in-frame together, as De Santis’s perceptions on persistent inequality.
January 06, 2016
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