Dino Risi at his best. In two years he shot six (!) movies, among which masterpieces such as « Il sorpasso » and « Una vita difficile ».
In 20 sketches, Risi reinvented Italian comedy : social criticism, political satire, caricature.
But first of all, it's great cinema : b&w cinemascope, two fantastic actors, a precise, powerful and efficient script. Risi hits the bull's eye with an exhilarating cruelty.
Every aspect of Italian life is dealt with: religion, politics, justice, police, sport, the rich and poor, cinema, culture and family.
What can then be saved in this general monstrosity ? Laughter, vitality, an extraordinary lucidity and talent of course. We wish we could see so much lucidity and humour about today's Italy.
It starts with a father. He is joyful, sympathetic but is also a thief, a cheater and a free-rider. But you are a father only if you have a son, and this son is so well advised by his father that he will kill and rob him. It is biting, cruel and funny. Needless to summon Freud to understand that a father's murder as a prologue can't be innocent . We can, on the other hand, remember another father, another son, another theft. The theft of a bicycle, to be specific, for Risi knows his masters (I was about to say his fathers).
The film then unfolds a cast of « monsters » who are all so humane. Risi, in his circus, depicts a carnivorous and fascinating society where everybody can spot a familiar character. And because it is deeply Italian, it becomes profundly universal.
The movie ends up with a punch drunk boxer (and spectator). It is a cruel tale of our pettiness. Under this vitriolic vision, the burnt flesh of man, what is left of us on a beach when we are alone and everything has faded away, childhood's kites, the salted water of melancholy.
The Italian society of 1963 could logically seem unattractive, doomed to machism and general spinelessness. Monstrous then ?
As Orson Welles used to say in « The Third Man », by Carol Reed : « In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, democracy and peace. What was then produced ? The cuckoo clock ! ».
Well, in 1963 Italy, they had Fellini, Visconti, Antonioni, Pasolini, Bolognini, de Sica, Rossellini, Germi, Emmer, Zurlini, Rosi, Pietrangelli, Monicelli, Comencini, Scola and many others.
Forza Italia !(read on) (show less)