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Two Women / The Stateline Motel
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Two: A beautiful woman and her 13-year-old daughter flee from the Allied bombs in Rome during the second world war and experience endless hardship.
Stateline: After robbing a jewellery shop in Canada, two Americans arrange a meeting near the US borders in order to split the loot.
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`Le Ciociara' tells the story of Cesira and her beautiful young daughter Rosetta. During World War II Cesira and her daughter flee from Rome in order to spare their lives and wind up staying in the town where Cesira grew up. A younger man, Michele, falls in love with Cesira and forms a close bond with her and her daughter. As the war rages on Cesira and those around her are subject to the cruelty of the soldiers and the inconvenience that comes from hiding.
For the majority of the films running time it feels as though this is all this film is about, and it manages to be very engrossing and very enlightening; but there is much more lurking around the corner.
I won't go into the tragedy that is soon to befall Cesira and her daughter, even though it is a major plot point that has been divulged before and you can easily uncover before watching the film. I feel that to walk into this film knowing how it ends is a shame and ultimately takes away from the intended feeling delivered by director Vittorio De Sica and his impressive cast. Walking into `Le Ciociara' blind, so-to-speak, adds to the velocity of the films conclusion, which is a resounding shock to the viewers emotional core. It challenges all that we think we know about these two women, this mother and her daughter and serves as the moral dilemma with which movies like this thrive.
Sophia Loren made history when she became the first actress to win an Academy Award for a foreign language performance. Her performance may very well be one of the best in the history of cinema, a truly outstanding and dynamic portrayal of a real woman, trying to give her daughter the best she can, who is destroyed (almost literally) by the realization that she simply cannot do that. Eleonora Brown, who plays Rosetta, is almost a ghost throughout the film, playing second fiddle to her mother and merely floating in and out of scenes, but as the film plummets towards its conclusion she rises to the occasion and delivers an equally devastating and real performance as her characters world is shattered and her innocence becomes stained with the harsh realities of this world.
`Le Ciociara' is a film that will touch you, that will reach you in a way you may not have expected. It's stark depiction of the fragile relationship between mother and daughter is disarming, for it is an unexpected peek at a brutal reality. Superbly done, `Le Ciociara' is a masterpiece.
*I just want to note that I do not own the DVD and thus cannot comment on the quality, which I hear is rather poor. Please note that this is a review of the film, and the film only.