theriverjordan’s review published on Letterboxd:
“Shoeshine” is the cinematic counterpart of a true good deed; a moment of pure morality, while the eye and judgement of the world look away.
Vittorio de Sica directed “Shoeshine,” but his work is equivalent to the brushstrokes in a Rembrandt. It all but disappears into a masterpiece.
“Shoeshine” is the lifeblood of what would become Rossellini’s “Germany, Year Zero” and, a decade later, Truffaut’s “400 Blows.” It follows two young brothers sentenced to juvenile prison. They pair stole some blankets, but the crime is nearly unmentioned in their trial; they are sentenced by old men for the sins of possessing youth and liberty.
The acting by the cast of boys is possibly the best I’m film, outside of Léaud himself. Imprisoned, they still become the essence of freedom; existing in the soul despite all external pressure to dissipate.
“Shoeshine” is emblematic of how well De Sica could manipulate his art; so completely that its medium ceases to exist, and becomes pure soul.