16 June 2018 | clanciai
A sincere and deep love story of two close brothers and Sophia Loren
Vittorio de Sica's last film is a delicate realisation of one of the Nobel Prize winner Luigi Pirandello's most sensitive and deeply human stories. It's a story of love with infinite tenderness and pain and equally infinite beauty, and all this, de Siva manages to put on screen in as restrained and perfectly controlled direction as Joseph Heifetz did in his rendering of Anton Chekhov's "Lady with the Dog" in 1959. It's precisely the same delicacy here (with equally heartfelt music by Manuel de Sica) but in colour and as beautifully operatic settings as in Luchino Visconti's "Senso". To this comes above all Sophia Loren's acting and Richard Burton's, for once remarkably controlled, until the very last scene.
This film has been rather brushed aside and neglected as too non-Vittorio de Sica to be taken seriously, but it's time to revise and give a faire appraisal of its qualities. Forget all his earlier films, all his black-and-white neorealism and all the war movies and take a look at this as something entirely different. This is a human story of bleeding hearts set before the first world war made a beautiful world disappear and at the pinpoint of death.
It has so many qualities, and not the least one is the mere cinematography, every scene being like a beautiful Italian painting, every human detail mattering including the gossiping servants, the scenes with the boy and the heart-rendering naivety of Ian Bannen, for once in a role completely void of any meanness. You have never seen him like this in any other film.
My favourite scene is when Sophia for the first time breaks her isolation after the loss of her husband, when Cesare has urged her to leave her closed-up existence and go out, while she refuses, but afterwards anyway goes up to the terrace, breathes some air and almost disappears among the laundry blowing in the wind...
I was always impressed by every Vittorio de Sica film I ever saw, but I am not exaggerating when I confess that I was never more impressed by him than in this one, mainly for its absolutely convincing humanism.