Tag Archives: italian film review

Italian films: La Dolce Vita

La Dolce Vita literally translates as ‘The Sweet Life’ and is a 1960 comedy-drama movie directed by the renowned Italian film director, Federico Fellini. It follows a week in the life of a journalist, Marcello, who is staying in Rome, and his constant quest for both happiness and love which will never be found. La Dolce Vita was awarded the coveted Palme D’Or at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival and also went on to win an Oscar for Best Costume.

La Dolce Vita - Fontana di Trevi

One of the most famous scenes in La Dolce Vita takes place in the Fontana di Trevi

The film follows seven days and nights in the Roman journalist’s life where he is torn between actually making a serious go of something in his life or alternatively should he to continue to drift along? Although he enjoys a pleasant, if meaningless stream of casual affairs and has a profitable, but hollow job with his newspaper and magazine work, something is missing.

During the time of the film, he manages to flirt with a visiting movie star and has one or two encounters with a blasé (seemingly upper-class) woman. One of the encounters actually takes place in a prostitute’s bedroom. Marcello is extremely shocked when Steiner, his distinguished and intellectual friend, (who is a ‘serious’ writer and deep thinker,) kills himself and also his children.

He also manages to ignore his adoring fiancée, Emma, who ends up taking an overdose because of his behaviour. By the end of the film, Marcello appears to be adrift on a sea of levity and self-loathing, but seems to have no idea how to find his way back again.

For some this is one of the best Italian films of all times and for others, not one of the greats, but we would still say that if you adore Italy, this should be a film on your ‘must watch’ list.


*Image: RaBoe/Wikipedia

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A film set in Italy: Roma Città Aperta

Roberto Rossellini’s film Roma Città Aperta is set in 1944, just one year before it was actually made, and combines the stories of the hardships suffered by the citizens of Rome under Nazi occupation and of a priest, Giuseppe Morosini, who was executed by the Germans for supporting the Italian Resistance.

Roma Città Aperta

The title, which translates as ‘Rome, Open City’, refers to the fact that Rome had been declared ‘open’ since 1943, which meant that the government had announced that their defences had been lowered. Of course, this paved the way for the German occupation, but probably prevented some bloodshed.


Rome’s film industry was practically non-existent by the end of the war and Rossellini had already abandoned one film due to lack of funds, but a rich friend of his was interested in having a documentary made about the life and execution of the priest. Since Rossellini had been keen to make a documentary about local support for Italian partisans, the two agreed to compromise with a feature film combining both ideas. The obvious deficiency of the budget led to the film being very crudely made, but to some extent, this lends it an air of authenticity.

Critical acclaim

Although it won several awards, the film was unpopular in Italy on its release, due to a desire for escapism amongst cinema-goers, and was banned in West Germany for several years. It is now viewed as a Rossellini masterpiece, remarkable for its gritty realism and refusal to temper its harrowing conclusion.

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Review: Caterina Va In Città (Caterina in the Big City)

Today our Italian film review focuses on Caterina va in città (2003), a coming-of-age movie from the acclaimed Italian director Paolo Virzì about the realities of the Italian society under Silvio Berlusconi’s rule. Despite being classified as a comedy, the majority of the scCaterina in the Big City enes are imbued with a dark sense of humor and the thread running throughout the movie is not really about Caterina, a 13-year old girl who moves with the family from a small town to Rome, but more about her father, Giancarlo Iacovoni, who realises late in life that it is ok to be an individual different from the others.

Caterina will discover in the new school she enrolls an ambient extremely divided politically when she starts developing friendships with the “left” and the “right” side of the class, represented by Margherita and Daniela, both coming from socially prominent families. Her father criticises the establishment, the big money, the old boys’ network, and yet envies them at the same time. With Caterina’s new connections, Giancarlo actually has the change to mingle with exactly the class of people he inwardly resents, but every chance he gets to make a mark among them turns to embarrassment.

If you have enjoyed the feeling that La vita è Bella (Life is Beautiful) left in you, that bittersweet combination of sadness and happiness, expect Caterina in the Big City to leave you with the same impressions. It is a coming-of-age movie for both the daughter and the father without the customary final scene where everything turns out fine and without the characters fulfilling the standard requirements of ‘coolness’ or ‘sympathy’. However, it is an extremely rewarding movie about normal people, life in the big city, class consciousness and divided societies.

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