This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Florin Scanlon’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
If this were to be made before World War II there would have been several elaborate comedic chases around the city. The message would have been exercise is good for your health, on or off a bike. If this were to be made during World War II the thief would have been caught by Antonio by the end. The message would have been order keeps society from falling apart while disobedience is unacceptable and deserving punishment. If this were Flesh Will Surrender Antonio would have gone to jail. The message would have been to be careful not to fall into temptation. If this were Tragic Hunt we would have seen the trial. The message would have been desperate times beget desperate gestures. If this were Under the Sun of Rome Bruno would have drowned and Maria would have died of bad heart. The message would have been in desperate times family comes first. If this were Without Pity Antonio would have been shot in the back while trying to steal the bike. The anti-war message would have been definitively hammered home. There are plenty of ways this could have unfolded but the way it ultimately did is the reason why Bicycle Thieves stands tall above contemporary movies. Instead of going to dramatic extremes to portray front and center a society in collapse, the movie employs restraint and uses it as a backdrop whose realistic and unmistakable signs slowly permeate the fabric of the film and the viewer's consciousness. Instead of limiting itself to one message, it moves from encounter to encounter to reveal the fuller picture. Instead of designating a token to point the finger at and delivering a clear-cut moral, it asks for (self-)reflection. Instead of dealing in simple truths, it goes for the questions that are hard to ask and hard to answer. A truly great film, with one of the most beautiful scores and one of the greatest endings ever put to film.