Una vita difficile (A Difficult Life). 1961. Italy. Directed by Dino Risi. Screenplay by Rodolfo Sonego. With Alberto Sordi, Lea Massari, Franco Fabrizi, Edith Peters. In Italian; English subtitles. 4K DCP restoration. Scanned from the original negative by Instituto Luce, Rome. Restoration carried out at VDM by StudioCanal. 118 min.
Arguably Dino Risi’s most courageous film, Una vita difficile 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. Inexplicably, Una vita difficile had never been distributed in the US before Rialto’s release earlier this year. In addition to creating permanent English subtitles (by Bruce Goldstein and Fiamma Arditi) for the very first time, Rialto has added a prologue explaining historical events.