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Life is Beautiful
Movie Stats & Links

Starring: Roberto Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi, Giustino Durano
MPAA Rated: PG-13
Released By: Miramax
Kiddie Movie: It's subtitled and deals with a dramatic period in history, so it depends on your kids.
Date Movie: It pulls the heart strings so I'd say yes.
Gratuitous Sex: Nope.
Gratuitous Violence: Given the period you might think so, but no.
Laughs:  Yes. Definitely. Some at awkward times.
Memorable Scene: I almost wet myself when Guido posed as a school inspector in order to get a chance to talk to the girl he loved.
Memorable Quote: So many… Where to begin… Ahh, too many so go see for yourself.
Directed By: Roberto Benigni
Produced By: Gianluigi Braschi

Life is Beautiful
A Movie Review

MPAA Rated - PG-13

It's 1:56 Long

A Review by
Stu Gotz
I'm not one for foreign sub-titled films. It has been my experience that the movies from abroad that wind up on the US big screens are usually artsy, foo-foo, films with homosexual overtones or incestuous themes. Hey, that's been my experience. Can I pick'em or what? Anyway, I basically avoid sub-titled films as a rule. I recently broke that rule when I was talked into seeing the Italian film "Life is Beautiful."

"Life is Beautiful" stars Italian megga star Roberto Genigni as Guido, a happy go lucky waiter of Jewish decent. Normally I wouldn't mention the whole Jewish thing, but because this movie is set during World War II (which for some reason didn't become apparent to me for the first 30 minutes of the movie) it plays an important part later in the film. Like I said, I never caught the whole Jewish/WWII thing for the first 30 minutes or so of the movie, but that's because I was so caught up in the wonderfully, goofball, romantic character Genigni created. I can see why he is a big star in Italy. Guido is a happy-go-lucky waiter who aspires to become a book merchant, while falling for a society gal, Dora (Nicoletta Braschi. Being that they are from different worlds, plus she's engaged, it doesn't seem likely that his silly romantic antics will make a difference. However, in a scene very similar to the end of "The Graduate," Guido whisks the love of his life away on a painted green horse. Together they have a cute little boy, a nice home, and the bookstore Guido always wanted.

If this was a short film, the movie could simply end here and be a better than average film. However, the movie goes on to show Guido and his son being abducted, and taken away to a Nazi work camp. "What about Dora?" you ask? Well, she's Italian society and not Jewish so she is left alone. Unable to bare the thought of losing the men in her life, she actually demands to be sent away with Guido and her son. Quite a sacrifice for love in my book. So there I was sitting in my seat totally getting bummed out by this new dark aspect of the movie. "Life is Beautiful?" I thought, "The title of this movie should be 'Life Sucks!'"

Actually, the movie is quite appropriately named despite the dark aspects. You see, Guido is a romantic, loving goofball, and can't bare to tell his son what is really gong on. So he makes a game of it all. He tells his son the whole work camp thing is just a game of wills with the prize being a real tank for the winner. This is not an easy charade to pull off, and there are many close calls where the truth almost comes out. Fortunately, Guido is great at thinking on his feet and is able to conceal his lie to his son the entire time there are interned. This provides for some laughs during and otherwise dark part of the movie, suspense, and tears. It is this portion of the movie that takes it from being and above average film to being a great must see film. In the end all I will say is that the boy goes to get his real tank and you will be left crying in your seats. In fact, this movie left the entire audience glued to their seats even as the credits rolled. Nobody left right away. We all just sat there in awe of this (I really hate to use this word, but…) profound film.

"Life is Beautiful" is the only sub-titled film that I can say is a must see for all. Set your blue collars aside, but on the reading glasses, and race out to see this movie now. It's in limited release and won't be around for long. "Life is Beautiful" gets a full 5 of 5 stars from me and I'm Stu Gotz. A great film, 'nuff said!

 

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