Living with a daughter who suffers from a weak heart and light temperament is hard enough in a major city. When it is during wartime it becomes impossible. Cesira is in just this sort of predicament with her only child. Her shop I in the path of bombs and she cant cope. So desperate she asks the local fixer for a solution and he sees the only route out to be the long hard journey to the village of her birth. This is miles away and in the mountains but is safer than the city. Bombing of the rails by Germans stop the train, so the two journey on foot. When they arrive the town is alive with people, music and love.
Oscar winning performances by anyone herald some of cinemas most amazing acting. Control of character, tone, pace, breath and feel are some of the key components to look out for but here it is passion that outs. Loren gives us a performance that underlines the sensitive nature of her craft and underplays her natural beauty. She is a mother of a fragile daughter but is strong, fierce, loving and brave. By using the chemistry shared between her, child star Eleonora Brown and the always amazing Jean-Paul Belmondo, we get tides of tender aches, warm emotions and painful hurts.
Now De Sica (and it is wrong not to mention the great man) is a director that understood rich and poor in social dynamics. He understands solitude and sacrifice. He also understands the power of the visual plane and the framing of action. Here he bends and shapes a very real world into a world that is sometimes saccharin but never unfair. De Sica knew that war had broken lives but also it had made people robust in connection, both sexual and sociological. He gets that here so well and yet so artfully. The disc might have nothing else on it that works well but the film is amazing!