Blu Ray / DVD Release: Monday Apr 23 2012
There’s more than a touch of the Woody Allen in Alberto Sordi’s portryal of Giovanni Alberti, a man descending into a pit of debt in Vittorio De Sica’s wonderful satire that is more than just a touch resonant in these times of ours.
Alberti is a man with a beautiful young wife and son, who are both accustomed to a way of living that Alberti simply cannot sustain. It’s a horrifically shallow way of living where happiness is seemingly measured in the minkiness of the stolls and the egginess of the caviar.
De Sica (director of The Bicycle Thieves among other classics) places hapless, sadsack Alberti in the middle of a group of friends all as vulgar as each other, in the middle of swinging, zeitgeist Rome but focuses on the hangover, not the party. It looks like La Dolce Vita is still in full swing, but there’s a sour after taste. The satire is delivered in the juiciest of ways as Alberti is given a shot at a way out, a shot at the big time financially.
The cost? An eye.
Yep, he is offered riches in return for his left eye and this dilemma forms the central crux of the film. Thanks to Sordi’s performance we root for Alberti, even though we wonder why he wants to spend time with these people, but aren’t we all Alberti, guilty of wanting the sheen, the good times, focusing on the material and the now, as opposed to the natural and forever?
De Sica thinks so, and this reissue of the film shows that such themes and questions are timeless. So, full of prescient themes but also full of some really good laughs and delivered with a brisk confidence that recalls classic French and British farces in part but its heart is unmistakably Italian.
A low key delight that swings and rings, true.