Umberto D. (1952)

Umberto D. Movie Review

Umberto D. Movie Review

Umberto D. is a 1952 Italian neorealist film directed by Vittorio de Sica and starring Carlo Battisti. It is a slightly disappointing, but still a very good movie.

First, I will talk about the flaws. I expected some great things from this picture and because its first half is so dull and lacking, I was disappointed in it. Yes, it fixes all of those mistakes later on, but the first half still remains troublesome. It follows an old man who can’t pay his rent and his landlady is threatening to kick him out if he doesn’t pay the full sum. Just in that premise lies the problem I’ve had with the film. The landlady is awfully vilified to the point of being a cartoon character and that I highly disliked. I get what the director was going for here, he wanted to show how people lack empathy towards others, but this was no way to do it as the woman was still horrendous to him even after he became ill. That was unrealistic and too cartoony in my opinion.

Also, the film is very dull, especially in its first act. Instead of introducing us properly to the characters, we are left with some boring overly prolonged shots and some very simplistic dialogue. That was certainly disappointing. However, Umberto D. becomes so much better later on and it ended up being pretty good in the end despite its weak start. The whole dog subplot helps the movie a lot as it brings the much needed heart and pathos to it. I really liked those sequences with Flike and the relationship between the two is really heartwarming.

The whole third act is spectacular and the ending is just fantastic. It is one of the best endings I’ve seen in a long time, there is no doubt about it. Umberto attempts suicide, but changes his mind and starts playing with his dog while walking in the park. That moment before the film closes is the highlight as it ends on such a wonderfully ambiguous, realistic note. His life is doomed and even though his faith and his future seems very bleak, he at least has his dog by his side and he starts to appreciate that and living as a whole. I loved that scene and it really sticked with me. It is such a perfect example of how just one scene (especially a closing one) can lift a movie to greater heights.

I found Umberto to be very sympathetic, but still underdeveloped. The dog is great and the housemaid is okay, but fairly underused. As for the acting, it is pretty good and Carlo Battisti is really likable in the title role. The directing from Vittorio de Sica is typically strong, but I still find his ‘Bicycle Thieves’ to be a much better movie. The cinematography is gorgeous in Umberto D, especially during the park sequences and the film moves at a solid pace later on, but is, as I said, dull and slow initially. The tone is deft and the film is not only very relatable, but also heartwarming and very realistic for the most part. The dialogue is okay, but could have been better. And the score I have to say that I really loved as it is quite moving and memorable. And the film has such a big heart. It is in the end a good Italian neorealist drama that is flawed, but still so moving and so relatable that it is definitely worth seeing.

Umberto D. is a flawed, but still a good movie. I found its first half to be incredibly slow and even dull and some aspects are exaggerated, but the film becomes so much better later on with such a fantastic second half with the finale in particular being great – moving, memorable and one of the best endings I’ve seen recently. The film is problematic at first, but becomes very relatable and heartwarming in the end with some excellent score, great cinematography and a big heart at its core.

My Rating – 4


Posted in 1950s, 1952, Drama, FILM DECADES, Foreign, Italian, MOVIE REVIEWS and tagged , , , , , .

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