The Marathon Begins
Corndog already said
what I'm about to. (Even while searching for my own favorite non-spoilery image, I chose the same.) I prefer my movies to be highly stylizied, and have barely scratched the surface of Italian Neo-Realism. The Bicycle Thief is the classic example of the sub genre. I think of it as being the best example possible, much as someone might talk about the best kung-fu film. Even the finest would probably not crack a list of the All Time Top 100.
For most of Umberto D. I was appreciative of the way director Vittorio De Sica creates reality. The dialogue, the visuals all create a very believable reality and what kept me from being bored was this window into a world I know incredibly little about. Then it slowly started to dawn on me that I'd seen this type of film before.
I didn't find Umberto D. anywhere near as powerful or as well acted, or as realistic as Wendy And Lucy. Umberto is a good film, but not on Wendy And Lucy's level.
It's often a challenge to hold a modern film up as superior to classic cinema, but I'm with DOOM!!! on this. While I usually prefer the classic, and the two films are honestly apples and... well pears, I was much more emotionally invested in Wendy's plight. I felt like more of an observer into the world of Umberto, which I'm certain has more to do with the time period and the different culture than with the filmmaking.
Like with The Bicycle Thief (and the recent Man Push Cart) the Neo-realism gives way to some intensely powerful drama in the final stretch. For all the talk about being an observer, Umberto D. really got great at the end. (Even the framings were more stylized, the editing a bit more frenetic.) Not great enough to make my Top 100, but I ended up liking the film a whole lot more because of it.Next Up:
A Man Escaped