VACATION (UNA BREVE VACANZA)
(director: Vittorio De Sica; screenwriters: story by Rodolfo Sonego/Cesare Zavattini;
editor: Franco Arcalli; music: Manuel
Renato Salvatori (Husband), Daniel Quenaud (Luigi), Jose Maria Prada (Dr. Ciranni), Teresa Gimpera (Gina),
112; MPAA Rating: PG;
Marina Cicogna/Athur Cohn; Home Vision Entertainment;
Italian with English
"This was De Sica's penultimate film and his last film released in America."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Italian filmmaker Vittorio De Sica ("The Bicycle Thief"/"Umberto D"/"Miracle in Milan"), the guiding force behind neo-realism, helms this humanistic family drama/romance that has him return to his roots in making a small personal film about real folks and their problems with poverty, after changing styles and going Hollywood in recent years. This was De Sica's penultimate film and his last film released in America. It's a feminist pic about a woman who lives a life Thoreau would call one of "quiet desperation." It's based on the story by Rodolfo Sonego and is written by Cesare Zavattini.
Depressed and exhausted Milanese factory worker, Clara (Florinda Bolkan), lives
a dumpy apartment in the slums of Turin that is filled
domestic disputes. The martyr-like Clara supports her
family, that includes her disabled
has a broken leg from a motorcycle
accident, their three
small children, her idler brother-in-law and her
When Clara comes down with a lung disease, she's sent
Italy's socialized National Health Service to a TB
sanatorium in the
Italian Alps. This turns out to be a blessing in
disguise, as she's
happy there and learns to live again with some
folks and regains a positive self-image because she's
accepted by these
upper-crusts. There's even promise of romance with
another patient (Daniel Quenaud), a sensitive young professional who asks
her to run away with him. But when she's released from
and returns to her empty life,
it stings more than even before. How she will handle
it, is not shown.
It's based on
epigram that 'sickness is the vacation for the poor.'
Bolkan's fine spirited performance as a victim of society, keeps things appealing and keeps the populist De Sica's outdated communist beliefs on the back-burner in favor of more humanistic responses. The movie is surprisingly upbeat, considering its grim subject-matter. It lays on us rich observations of life differences between the haves and the have-nots, and gives us a sympathetic heroine worth caring about. But it's only a minor work in the talented De Sica's opus, as it lacks the depth and emotional impact of his great early films.
REVIEWED ON 6/8/2010 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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