After the end of the second World War, the Italians apparently began a cinematic experiment of their own: they wanted to capture on film the daily lives and struggles of the poor or working class citizens. This “movement” was called Neorealism, and it basically sought to explore the psyche of every day people. (Hat/tip: Wikipedia)
As an example, say you get up today, and you want to make yourself some pancakes. You go to the fridge, open it up, and realize you’re out of eggs – a requirement of the pancake mix. So, you dress and head down to the corner grocer. Once there, you find eggs on sale for $1 a dozen, so you decide you’ll have two – two dozen, not only two eggs. You pick up your cartons, and you head for the cashier. Once in line, you run into an old friend who asks you what you’re doing. You tell the old friend about your love of pancakes and your need of a good egg. She nods politely, and, then, there’s this uncomfortable moment where neither of you speak. Next, you pay for your eggs. Back home, you park the car, head for the kitchen, and realize you’re now hungry for cereal.
Seriously: that’s the film. That’s the Italian neorealist film, at its heart.
Is that something you want to watch?
L’AUTOMOBILE (THE AUTOMOBILE) stars Anna Magnani as “Anna” – a prostitute – in her ongoing bid to buy a car, and this 70’s gem of Italian cinema isn’t really that at all: from what I’ve been able to uncover about it, it never played theatrically, only on television. Needless to say, Anna’s experience doesn’t unfold much in the way she wanted, and much of this discovery comes from walking around on the streets talking to people about … well … you guessed it … about buying a car. I’d hate to spoil it for you, but she does buy one, and, in the film’s final moments, there’s actually some drama, but it’s hardly worth the 90 minutes it took to get there.
The film was been digitally restored by Rare Video, and the disc includes “new and improved English subtitle translations” as well as a video introduction by someone named Mario – he’s apparently a film critic and knows a thing or two about neorealism films.
NOT RECOMMENDED unless you’re a student or film scholar hoping to watch a subpar example of an Italian neorealism film and, even then, if this is the only example of such you can get your hands on. It’s painfully dry, painfully slow, painfully uninteresting … which may be why the French neo-realism came to an end.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Raro Video provided me with a DVD screener copy of L’AUTOMOBILE (THE AUTOMOBILE) for the expressed purpose of completing this review.