30 October 2004 | sol-kay
Innocence lost in the fog of war
***SPOILERS*** Set in 1943 war torn Italy the movie "Two Women" is about a mother and daughter leaving Rome for the , what they think, safety of the countryside and going back to their little village in the hills and mountains in the Agro Pontino area just north of Rome.
Sophia Loren in a somewhat non-glamorous role as Cesira a shop owner in the Italian capital who's estranged from her husband and is, at the time that we first meet her, having an affair with local food distributor Giovanni, Ralf Vallone. Taking care of her shy teenage daughter Rosetta, Eleanor Brown, Cesira has had enough of the almost daily and deadly bombing by the USAAF and RAF and leaves the city with her daughter by train for her home town. There's trouble almost as soon as the train leaves the city with it being derailed by an Allied air attack. Leaving the disabled train and on foot both Cesira and Rosetta make it to the village after they survive an air attack by a USAAF fighter that killed a farmer who was walking on the same road with them.
After getting to the village things are more or less peaceful, with the war just an old and bitter memory, with Cesira meeting and falling in love with the local intellectual as well as socialist young collage student Michele,Jean-Paul Belmondo, who even young Rosetta takes a strong liking to. The almost forgotten war slowly catches up with Cesira and Rosetta and the people at the small village as the Allied forces break through the German lines and reach the outskirts of Rome. It soon becomes too dangerous for the village people to stay and they start to leave and go south to the Italian capital city which is now in US/Allied hands. Before this happened a squad of German soldiers entered the town and took Michele with them as a guide through the dangerous hills and valleys of the Argo Pontino.
On their way to Rome the two women, Cesira & Rosetta, stop off at a bombed out church to get some rest and are later set upon by a group of French Colonial Moroccan troops. The Moroccans brutally beat and gang raped them leaving young Rosetta almost mute with fear and shame of what happened to her and her mother. Getting back on their way to the Italian capital Cesira & Rosetta are both picked up by a local truck driver Firindo, Renato Salvatore. Stoping off at a small town outside of Rome that night Rosetta who seemed to have completely lost her mind, since she and her mother were raped, sneaks out of the room that she sharing with Cesira and has an affair with the truck driver. This both sickened and outrages her already distraught mother. The movie ends with Cesira getting the terrible news that her lover Michele was shot and killed by the Germans as we later see both mother and daughter alone in their small room arm in arm crying and consoling each other as the movie slowly fades to black.
Sophia Loren rightfully who got an Academy Award as best actress for 1961 in the role of Cesira was both feisty as well as touching as the long suffering Italian mom. The vicious rape scene in the bombed out church of Cesira and Rosetta was not only graphic and shocking. By having this outrage committed by the liberating allied troops instead of the occupying German soldiers it showed that there's nothing good that comes out of war on either side.