"Near nudity" and a few obscenities (in the sub-titles)

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This interesting film is a tribute to the famous Italian director, Victorio de Sica, whose neo-realist film THE BICYCLE THIEF, made in 1948, becomes part of the storyline of this neo-symbolist movie. THE BICYCLE THIEF was a landmark film on every level which told in a simple, straightforward way about the ordinary, forgotten people who never have movies made about them.

THE ICICLE THIEF opens with the real director of the film arriving at a TV studio to be interviewed about his latest movie. The host, a snooty professor whose theories about film make about as much sense as selling ice-making machines at the North Pole, is contemptuous of the director. The studio starts the director’s movie, and it is a remake of de Sica’s classic. Only this time, an Italian workman, long unemployed, loses a chandelier which he has stolen, rather than losing his bicycle to a thief.

Throughout the movie, subtle changes begin occur among the characters as commercials begin to intrude on the world of neo-realist drama. The studio cuts to a commercial, and the model who was diving into a pool in the spot suddenly ends up in the movie. The unemployed workman’s wife suddenly leaves the movie and ends up in a commercial about soap cleaner. These layers of complexity pile up, and, unless very careful attention is paid to the movie, a viewer will be hopelessly lost.

Writer-director-star Nichetti’s comedy couldn’t be timelier, in light of recent Italian legislation restricting commercials. However, this is not a movie for the average moviegoer. Though well scripted, acted and directed, it will take a viewer with an intimate knowledge of the postwar, Italian neo-realism in film and an appreciation of the symbolist genre to understand the story which resonates with political and social satire. Also, unless you have seen THE BICYCLE THIEF, many of the nuances and takeoffs will be missed in THE ICICLE THIEF. Caution is advised primarily for this reason, as well as for the sub-titled obscenities and the “near nudity”.