Thursday, February 09, 2017

The Children Are Watching Us (Vittorio De Sica, 1944)

The beginning of De Sica's voyage towards neorealism features some remarkable performances (the young boy is extraordinary) and splendid photography. It's hard not to be struck by what today seems the misogyny of the narrative, but the story is undoubtedly engrossing, a beautiful balance between the understated and the excessive. There is a remarkable moment early on when we first see the lovers meet - the change of register (from realism into heightened melodrama), the change of framing (to traditional two shots and reverse shots) and the interruption of the music meant I genuinely thought the sequence was going to be revealed as taking place on a cinema screen (the wife has turned down the chance to go to the cinema in order to meet her lover in the park), until I recognised the wife (I'm slow on faces!). Sophisticated reflexivity or overreading?

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