Mamma Roma (1962)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB

Italy, 1962.  Arco Film.  Screenplay by Pier Paolo Pasolini.  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Anna Magnani‘s divine performance is the best thing about this stand-out film by Pier Paolo Pasolini, one of his most enjoyable and involving. She plays a prostitute who moves to Rome with her teenage son and hopes to make a better life for the both of them. Selling wares at the open market while pushing her son to better himself with a job, he quickly falls back into a life of bad company and even worse habits, resulting in tragedy for all involved. Pasolini never gets too mired in the sadness of what he presents here, maintaining an aloof distance that is not judgmental but wholly practical, only allowing the film to be genuinely moving through Magnani’s fantastic acting. Thank heaven her winning the Academy Award seven years earlier didn’t prevent her from going back to Europe and making this kind of movie instead of playing the Mamma-Mia stereotypes that Hollywood had to offer.

The Criterion Collection:  #236

Venice Film Festival:  In Competition

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