Bicycle Thieves Review

I am reviewing number 85 on the top 1000 films of all time: Bicycle Thieves (1948.)

Set in Post WW2 Italy, this film focuses on family man Antonio Ricci (Lamberto Maggiorani.) To provide for his family in this desperate time, he accepts a job to cycle around town and post advertisement bills.  When out on the job, his bicycle is stolen.  The rest of the film follows him trying to recover it, all the while trying to support his family.

Other than placing 85 on the greatest films of all time, Bicycle Thieves was regarded as the best film of all time by Sight and Sound and was also ranked in the top ten of the British Film Institute’s films you should see before 14.  Oops…that being said I didn’t enjoy it and I didn’t enjoy it because I never felt the dramatic tension or immediacy of the film.  We’re obviously supposed to identify with Antonio, as a hard-working man who wants the best for his family, but I didn’t feel anything.

 In fact, I was a little uninterested in his plight.  I think more should have been done earlier to establish his dedication to his family.  As a viewer, I felt that I was dumped into his life without any context.

I also did find the film a little predictable.  I saw the ending coming.  Antonio, out of pure desperation, steals an unattended bicycle himself only to be caught  True it was quite touching that the owner forgave Antonio upon seeing the confused and upset Bruno (Antonio’s son who was accompanying him, ) and this is also did well in demonstrating the vicious circle that crime produces and the lengths a man will go to for his family.  But the fact that I guessed it again, hurt its dramatic immediacy.

So overall, this wasn’t a film that I particularly enjoyed.  It was predictable and I wasn’t emotionally involved with it.  It is interesting how at this point, my opinion is differing from the critics and audiences who so rate these films.

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