6 August 2008 | jzappa
Great Italian Cinema
Sophia Loren, aside from being one of the most sumptuously sexy women I have ever seen, proves herself here to be a tremendous actress. She has a melodramatic Italian flair that impassions her lovably aggressive character, a widowed shopkeeper in Rome during the Allied bombing in WWII, who flees with her beloved daughter to her impoverish mountainous native region. Throughout the story, she proves to be a strong woman, seasoned by pain and not having lost the fire and fight in her.
Like many European films of its time, Two Women is all about the characters and the current on which they flow through the film, a realistic capsule of a time and place. Vittorio De Sica, who made the beautifully small-scale film The Bicycle Thief, which is about a relationship between father and son, forms a companion piece with Two Women, which is about a relationship between mother and daughter. He addresses strikingly the unbearable love between a parent and their child.
Truly one of the greatest Italian films, this is an absorbing, emotional, modest journey with wonderful music; coarse, down-to-earth cinematography from the wonderful old days of gritty film prints and old school hands-on editing; incredible acting not only from Loren but from the young actress playing her daughter, who drastically transforms; and also from Jean- Paul Belmondo, who convincingly plays completely against type; and a beautifully emotional final shot. For those who feel detached from older foreign films, especially neo-realist, I have yet to see an Italian neo-realist film any more alive than this one!