Friday, June 10, 2005

The Wide Blue Road

I liked this film exactly as much as I hoped I would, and I had high hopes for it. An early work by Gillo Pontecorvo, best known for The Battle of Algiers and Burn!, it's strongly left-leaning, but more romantic, lyrical, and exciting than your standard work of social realism; and the Italian coastal waters on which much of the film is shot are truly lovely to look at. It focuses on the struggles of a dynamite fisherman, played by the charismatic Yves Montand -- Mario in The Wages of Fear, another great film recently watched -- to support his family and survive in the community of his peers, who fish with nets and, though they like him, resent his more successful (but illegal and "uncompetitive") means of making his catch. The film has various subplots -- the coming of age of his sons, the desire of his daughter to marry, and the struggles of the local fishermen to wriggle out from under the thumb of the local capitalist monopolist who controls the prices they get for their fish -- but the main story is compelling enough: what a good man, in a bad trade, must do to keep his family fed, avoid the police, and somehow still keep the esteem of his fellows, his children, and of himself. Probably not an easy one to find in a rental shop, but worth seeking out.

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