Umberto D.

1952, Movie, NR, 89 mins

Review

UMBERTO D.
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Simple on its surface but actually multi-layered and complex, this shattering portrait of an old man is an indictment of postwar Italy and its treatment of the aged. Umberto Domenico Ferrari (non-pro Carlo Battisti, a university professor) is a retired civil servant with no friends, family, or prospects, and only his dog, Flike, to keep him company. His meager pension does not provide enough for him to both eat and afford shelter, so Umberto is far behind on his rent for the room he has lived in for three decades. When he used to work during the day, his landlady (Lina Gennari) rented his room to lovers, but since his continual presence isn't adding to her income, she is planning to evict him. Umberto is one of many elderly people who voice their opposition to the way the government is treating pensionsers. Depressed by the lack of response, he determines there is no way out but suicide. He puts those thoughts aside, however, when he realizes that his dog would be at the mercy of the streets. One of the greatest films of all time and one of the handful of masterpieces to emerge from the Italian neo-realist period, UMBERTO D. is as cerebral as it is emotional, as bleak as it is warm. There is no sentimentality or pandering for sympathy in De Sica's direction. The emotions one feels watching Umberto and Flike are cathartic. This is a remarkable collaboration by De Sica, Battista, and screenwriter Cesare Zavattini. leave a comment

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