Drama/Foreign/Class Act

Mamma Roma

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Distributed by: Connoisseur/Meridian

Reviewed by Justine Manzano



            Something you may not know about me, your friendly neighborhood reviewer/student, is that, while I write articles faithfully for you every week, I am also learning Italian.  Recently, I received an assignment for my Italian class—my professor assigned me a movie review to write.  How great is that?!  Movie reviews are what I do!  Naturally, there was a catch.  This movie review had to be written in Italian.  So, I watched the movie and I wrote the review and didn’t want you to be deprived of it, just because you don’t read Italian.  So, without further ado, I give you my review of Mamma Roma, a film by popular Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini.

            Mamma Roma is a film that came on the heels of the popular Italian Neorealistic film movement, which showed people the simplistic lives on the streets of Rome, and the way the real world worked after WWII.  Filmed in 1962, Mamma Roma is about a former prostitute by this name, and her son Ettore (Ettore Garofolo).  Mamma Roma (Italian superstar Anna Magnani), moves herself and her son out of the small farm community and into Rome, in fear of Ettore becoming a hick.  She has big plans for her son, but her son doesn’t seem to have as big plans for himself.  Ettore loves hanging out and doesn’t want to do anything else but hang around all day, behaving like a thug.   Things only get worse when he gets himself wrapped up with the promiscuous Bruna (Silvana Corsini). 

            Mamma Roma has spent her life trying to hide her past from Ettore and help him to grow into a better person than she has been.  She determines that she must send Ettore to school if she wants him to become a better person but she doesn’t have enough money.  To make matters worse, Carmine (Franco Citti), her former pimp and Ettore’s father, has come back into her life, looking for her money.  Suddenly Mamma Roma is stuck in an escalating problem, and she must return to a life of prostitution, a decision that has tragic consequences for the very family she has been trying to protect.

            This movie was rather dramatic and the acting was very well done.  I imagine that this probably wouldn’t be the first film I would recommend to someone who was either familiar with the Italian Neorealistic form of film, nor would it be the first film I would recommend to someone who has been unexposed to foreign film, because they contain elements that are very specific to these types of film.  You would probably have to be used to the type, however the direction and acting in the film was fantastic, and it was incredibly sad. 

            Though this would not have been my first choice of a movie to watch on a Monday afternoon, I enjoyed what I saw.  The media major in me loved the elements of direction I saw, the Italian student in me loved listening to the language spoken in the way it was intended, the Creative Writer in me loved the script and the reviewer in me enjoyed the performance.  This was a great movie all around and it should be seen.  Disregard the language discrepancy…there are always subtitles!

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