BRIEF VACATION (UNA BREVE VACANZA)
(director: Vittorio De Sica; screenwriters: story by Rodolfo Sonego/Cesare Zavattini;
Guarnieri; editor: Franco Arcalli; music: Manuel de Sica;
Renato Salvatori (Husband), Daniel Quenaud (Luigi), Jose Maria Prada (Dr. Ciranni), Teresa Gimpera (Gina),
Adriana Asti (Scanziani);
Runtime: 112; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: Marina
Cicogna/Athur Cohn; Home Vision Entertainment;
1973-Italy-in Italian with English subtitles)
"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. 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 in a dumpy apartment
in the slums of Turin that is filled with noisy
domestic disputes. The martyr-like Clara supports her
unpleasant family, that includes her disabled husband
has a broken leg from a motorcycle accident, their
three small children, her idler brother-in-law and her
senile mother-in-law. When Clara comes down with a
lung disease, she's sent courtesy of 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 interesting cultured 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 the
returns to her empty life, it stings more than even
before. How she will handle it, is not shown.
It's based on
Apollinaire's 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Bolkan's fine spirited performance as a victim of society, keeps things appealing and keeps the populist De Sica's outdated communist beliefs on the back-burner in favor of more humanistic responses.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"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ