The Bicycle Thief

Bomb Rating: 

Warning, spoiler: Antonio's bicycle is stolen.

I'm all for re-releasing fresh prints of classic films so that new generations can see firsthand how boring they really are. "The Bicycle Thief," however, is an exception, as the only inspiration one can really cull from the movie is the urge to plunge corkscrews into one's eyes. Granted, 1940s postwar Rome might not have left director Vittorio De Sica in the best of moods, but let's just say if they had a special Oscar category for depressing films (call it the "Bummer") this gem would probably still be winning it.

Antonio Ricci (Lamberto Maggiorani), an unemployed loser in a city with unemployed losers to spare, finally lands a job applying posters. The catch: He needs his recently pawned bicycle to get the job done. His industrious wife, Maria, (Lianella Carell) comes up with the solution: Pawn their crusty sheets. Amazingly, this amounts to an "even trade" in the eyes of the pawn broker (remind me to haul my soiled linens down to the Performance bike shop tomorrow) and Antonio skips off with his bicycle, exalting in his new job.

Warning, spoiler: Antonio's bicycle is stolen. The rest of the movie then becomes an excruciatingly slow descent through the streets of Rome as Antonio, dragging son Bruno (Enzo Staiola) along behind him, chases down his bike and the man who stole it. The thief keeps popping up at opportune moments, and at times, Antonio gets uncomfortably close. Mostly, he just runs around making a nuisance of himself until pretty much the entire city of Rome wants to kick his ass.

This film is often hailed as a classic example of Italian neorealism. "Neorealism," for those of you with actual jobs, is a term typically reserved for effete academics who find the real world to be a "new" and innovative experience on the rare occasions that they're forced to confront it. For the rest of us, "neorealism" translates into "dull, poor, depressing crap you can get for free right at your own home or job."

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