Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

aka - Ciociara, La
Italy 1961
Directed by
Vittorio De Sica
99 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Two Women

Sophia Loren, a last minute replacement for Anna Magnani, plays Cesira, the single mother of a teenage daughter, Rosetta (Eleanora Brown) who in the last stages of WWII, flees Rome which is being bombed by the Allies and heads to her former village home near Sicily where she meets Michele (Jean-Paul Belmondo) an anti-fascist idealist. He, understandably, falls for her but the war pursues them with tragic results.

Loren won an Academy Award for Best Actress although this is arguably more for the contrast between  her performance as a feisty woman struggling to survive alone in trying conditions and her celebrity image as one of the world’s most beautiful women than anything particularly outstanding about her nevertheless commendable performance (Loren herself came from a poor background and based her performance on her memories) .

Adapted by director Vittorio De Sica and Cesare Zavattini from the novel by Alberto Moravia, the film itself doesn’t realize its potential , de Sica often relying on stereotypical signifiers of Italianness, particularly when it comes to Loren’s performance (just as sticking a pair of spectacles on an oddly cast Belmondo is meant to suggest his sensitive, intellectual qualities). The film’s terrible climax, a rape of both mother and daughter by Allied troops (rather vaguely referred to as “Moroccans”) has striking emotional impact  particularly thanks to a freeze-frame of Rosetta’s traumatized face but this is not carried through to the yet further suffering to come, which is handled rather expediently despite the film actually feeling much longer than it is.




Want something different?

random vintage best worst