Xplodera’s review published on Letterboxd:
“You live and you suffer”
Bicycle Thieves has had a special place in my heart for several years, yet, this is the first time I've ever seen it. It all started a couple of years ago when I was about to register an account on a website and after a history of so many cringeworthy usernames I decided to look for a good one. So, as the movie-fan I already was I looked for something movie related and so it happened that I became The Bicycle Thief (or more specifically, the Swedish title of the movie) so I think it was really time for me to get around to see this movie.
Thankfully, I can still use the username with pride, because Bicycle Thievesis one of the finest movies I've ever had the pleasure to enjoy. It's incredible how this story about the unemployed Antonio Ricci in Italy in the late -40's that finally get a job to support his family, but soon loses the bicycle so important for his job - can become so much with so little. It's a powerful and symbolic piece of art about class struggles and how much something seemingly ordinary can mean to someone. With its socialistic neorealism, it really struck all my cords.
The story about this father and his insanely cute son is so gripping that it's impossible to not get sucked into what's at its core is just a simple search for a little bicycle during most of its runtime. Thanks to the characters though, it all works so wonderful, Antonio is not always a nice father but without excusing it, it's easy to understand it given the context he's in. Seeing him climb ladders to glue up the movie-posters for movies that the distance upper-class can go see, while Antonio himself barely can put food on the table is such a strong representation of what this movie is getting across. To add to this, the son becomes a strong symbol of life, of everything Antonio has to live for and with him in the picture it's impossible not to realize what the bicycle means.
Bicycle Thieves is a movie that even if it would've come out today - needs to be in black-and-white. Regardless of the fact that the movie probably needed to be in that way considering the time-period its made, it creates a grey and gloomy atmosphere that fits everything perfectly and the splendid music complements that feeling. Still, despite the themes and the way the visuals support the grim parts - the class divisions luckily never becomes too on-the-nose.
Because that's something that this movie is, gloomy and dark. That's also what really stuck me so hard with it, it's a gritty portrayal of something that's closer to reality than fiction. It's still beautiful in its pitch-black darkness, but Bicycle Thieves is most of all a an incredible movie that fills so much in so little of a premise - that it becomes a perfectly-aimed gut punch in the end.