Umberto D.

"Good"

Umberto D. Review


Hankering to feel like crap? You need to spend more time with the Italian cinema of the 1950s, and Vittorio De Sica's Umberto D. would be a great place to start.

Shot four years after his famous The Bicycle Thief, De Sica returns to his roots with a vengeance. No longer content to put a lower-class laborer into an even deeper hellhole, this time the melodramatic director gives us a dying old man, his dog, and a pregnant maid, none of whom are destined for futures we'd describe as happy. Old man Umberto (played by non-actor Carlo Battisti; none of the cast in the film are pros) is so poor is landlady rents out his room during the day to prostitutes to help with the bills. (It's just as well; he's looking for someone to take his puppy so he can off himself.)

And so it goes, for about an hour and a half, as Umberto's life slips ever closer to suicide -- or will he? Breathe easy -- people in De Sica's films always tend to squeak by... though one gets the feeling death's grip is lurking just around the corner.

It's that blatant familiarity that makes Umberto D. feel so derivative and, well, plain. It's like watching a documentary about the Great Depression on The History Channel. Poverty abounds. Solutions are nowhere to be found.

If not for Bicycle coming four years earlier, it would be easy to find more to like in the film. But Battisti just doesn't generate the same pathos that Lamberto Maggiorani (the victim of Bicycle) is able to generate. Both were guys off the street, discovered by De Sica. But Maggiorani had a quality that made him into a minor star who appeared in more than a dozen films. Battisti never acted again (though admittedly, he was an old man).

If anyone steals the show, oddly, it's the dog. I'm a cat person myself, but that little dog totally owns the picture. By the end, Umberto stands next to a train track holding the pup. Will he jump in front of the oncoming engine? Who cares? Just put the little dog down and we can all go home happy... or at least happy enough not to follow suit.

The new Criterion disk adds an Italian TV spot about De Sica, an interview with Maria-Pia Casilio (she plays the hooker), and a lovely printed essay booklet.



Umberto D.

Facts and Figures

Run time: 89 mins

In Theaters: Monday 7th November 1955

Distributed by: Nelson Entertainment

Production compaines: Amato Film, Rizzoli Film, Produzione Films Vittorio De Sica

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Fresh: 27 Rotten: 1

IMDB: 8.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: as Umberto Domenico Ferrari, as Maria, la servetta, Lina Gennari as Antonia, la padrona di case, Ileana Simova as La donna nella camera di Umberto, Elena Rea as La suora all' ospedale, Memmo Carotenuto as Il degente all' ospedale

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Advertisement
Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Sing Movie Review

Sing Movie Review

The quality of the animation in this musical comedy may not be up to Pixar...

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.