Clara (Florinda Bolkan)

With almost 30 years between the Italy of Bicycle Thieves and the Italy of A Brief Vacation, De Sica and Zavattini revisit the working class hero, but this time the political agenda is left behind for a love story. It begins with our heroine Clara waking up and nearly breaking down before running off to work. She is supporting a family that really doesn’t let her stop to be a human being. One day at work she is so rundown that her coworkers do everything but drag her to the National Health to be examined.

Waiting At The National Health

While waiting to be checked out, she goes to a cafe with a man. It’s very brief, but there is a spark. She gets checked out and they want her to come back. At home she is met with a slap from her husband for being with the man. However, when she goes back to get the results of her checkup, the doctor orders her to a sanitarium in the mountains to heal for a couple of months. It’s at this sanitarium that the woman inside Clara is able to emerge. She even meets the man from the National Health a couple of times. However, she eventually heals physically and must leave.

In the hands of another director the film might be shamelessly sentimental filled with heart warming moments, obvious tragedy, and an even more obvious ending. Luckily, De Sica strips the film of that nonsense leaving only what rings true. Florinda Bolkan is wonderful as Clara without a false note in her performance. I highly recommend it.

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