Bicycle Thieves ★★★★★

The hardship of joblessness in a ruinous economy is plaintively captured in Vittorio de Sica’s Italian neorealistic masterpiece; a film that transcends its time with themes that remain universal and still relevant. Unemployed father Antoncio Ricci (Lamberto Maggiorani) is assigned a job as bill poster on the condition of having a bicycle, alas his was pawned some time ago to make ends meet. After pawning the family bed sheets (!) in order to buy a bicycle, searing heartache follows initial optimism when it is stolen soon after starting the job. De Sica conjures up feelings of sadness and empathy, especially enhanced by the actor's natural acting style and a realistic narrative that ends as most things do in real life... not the Hollywood way. Maggiorani is wonderful as the father relentlessly trying to remain strong in the face of tragedy, while young Enzo Staiola steals many scenes with his humorous charm and successful portrayal of the unconditional loyalty of a child towards his father. It's remarkable to think these were untrained actors! Alessandro Cicognini's hauntingly melancholy score is also so superb I got goosebumps on some scenes seeing how effective it was. One of the best films ever made.

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