58. La vita è bella (1997)

Date First Watched: 28/11/2009
Date Last Watched: 28/11/2009
# Viewings: 2

When I first started working through the top 250, this was one of the films which I knew I would hate. It looked like a melodramatic, manipulative piece of rubbish with a kid in it to make it even worse. So I put it off for over 4 years and was surprised at how much I loved it when I did eventually get around to it – I rated it 10/10.

Over the years I’ve mostly heard people whinging about it being a melodramatic, manipulative piece of rubbish that is unfunny and insensitive. But I really don’t see it. I think if you don’t instantly like Guido, then you’re probably going to hate it. I normally hate that kind of character, but for some reason I find him very likable and genuine. The humour is silly and childish at times, but I don’t think it’s insensitive at all. It treads the line of ‘tragedy’, but not insensitivity. We know what’s really going on, we know it was horrible – that’s a given – and we see one guy doing everything he can so his child can retain his innocence. And, for me anyway, makes it all the more effective and gut-wrenching. I likely wouldn’t have given a toss otherwise.

It gets significantly better once the war stuff starts, but the build up is the reason it works as well as it does, otherwise we wouldn’t have the same development and attachment to Guido (and likely, it would seem insensitive). Although I still found the latter half devastating, the first half felt like a bit of a drag this time. Not a 10/10 anymore, but still a great film.

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