Monday, September 13, 2010

"Umberto D": aka, La Dull-ce Vita

So it takes A LOT for me not to get overly invested in an animal movie. To this day, I can't watch The Fox and the Hound. But I'll hand it to Umberto D for taking the pathos out of a pound scene. The movie ended up being less transparently political than I expected, and, actually, I think it was the worse for it. I didn't get a sense of what social circumstances led to the pension crisis the first scene alludes to, how "the war" plays into it, or what the economic picture as a whole was for anyone other than Umberto D (which would be a good name for a rapper). If you're going to make a political statement, doesn't it make sense to at least show how we got to the bad place so we can, I don't know, fix it or avoid it or something? Even Upton Sinclair does that.

So once I decided I couldn't be less interested in the eponymous character, I had to do something else for the next 85 minutes. Rather than play the game of what celebrities the Italian extras resembled, (that one looks like Joel Grey! And bald Salman Rushdie!) I decided to pay attention to the secondary characters that the movie either outright disliked or marginalized and (feminista alert here) they were both women! I have to admit that I feel a bit bad for the landlady/madam. She's got to make money too in a presumably tough economic climate, and Umby mentions that she was practically starving during the war. She's marrying a dude for free movie tickets for God's sake, and he's not paying his rent. Let's cut her some slack.

And Maria (of course) the pregnant maid. Can we just write past the ending and imagine what her life is going to look like when she starts to show? The silent crying in the kitchen was nice, but why make her promiscuous? Can no one else be sympathetic in this film?

1 comment:

  1. Damn! I missed Joel Grey AND Salman Rushdie! *Almost* makes me want to re-watch ;)

    But, agreed about the landlady--why is she bad for simply wanting the agreed upon amount of rent? That's just the way renting works.