Una vita difficile (A Difficult Life). 1961. Italy. Directed by Dino Risi. Screenplay by Rodolfo Sonego. With Alberto Sordi, Lea Massari. In Italian; English subtitles. 118 min.
Arguably Dino Risi’s most courageous film, A Difficult Life traces Italy’s swift descent into crony capitalism and rampant consumerism in the decades following World War II. Alberto Sordi, who could play high-minded idealists and miserable cynics with equally brilliant conviction, here plays a mixture of the two: a partisan resistance fighter who, suffering no end of disappointment both in his career and his marriage, is stripped of all illusion, including that of his own deeply felt principles. Archival 35mm print from Cineteca Nazionale; courtesy Rialto Pictures.