“A gentle Jewish-Italian waiter, Guido Orefice (Roberto Benigni), meets Dora (Nicoletta Braschi), a pretty schoolteacher, and wins her over with his charm and humor. Eventually they marry and have a son, Giosue (Giorgio Cantarini). Their happiness is abruptly halted, however, when Guido and Giosue are separated from Dora and taken to a concentration camp. Determined to shelter his son from the horrors of his surroundings, Guido convinces Giosue that their time in the camp is merely a game.”
What I liked:
It takes two very different genres and does both perfectly. It’s blend of heartwarming comedy and intense drama doesn’t fail. The script is clever and sharp and the comedic timing is brilliant. The pacing and story development is very original and can seem strange at first, but that’s only because Life is Beautiful is like no other movie. Many scenes start off intense and then become comedic or vice versa. This is a big risk that really works out as everything seems to blend seamlessly.
The performances. Roberto Benigni is perfect in his role as Guido. With an obviously Charlie Chaplin inspired performance, Roberto brings something very different to the table, especially for a film that came out in 1997. It is no surprise that he took home the Best Actor Oscar that year. The performances of the other characters are never as strong or eye catching as Roberto’s, but they definitely do a good job in supporting him. I truly cared for all the characters.
The sharp change in tone; The film quickly changes from a light hearted comedy to a powerful and tear jerking tragedy. I really don’t want to give too much more away about the ending of the film, but the fact that everything is treated in such a light and happy way only makes the horrible things that happen so much more devastating.
What I didn’t like:
There were a few plot holes that I couldn’t help but notice. It took me away from the film a little bit but I don’t feel like they are necessary to fully explain.
Overall, Life is Beautiful is so emotionally powerful because it offers hope and laughter in the face of unflinching horror. The film is so different and unique that it is just a joy to watch. If you have a chance to check this film out in Cole Cinema, you should definitely take it.