Two Women (La Ciociara)

1961

Two Women (La Ciociara)

Critics Consensus

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88%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 8

92%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 3,134
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Movie Info

Normally, an actor or actress in a foreign-language film was not the ideal candidate for an Academy Award, inasmuch as his or her English-language "performance" was often dubbed in by an anonymous third party. Such was not the case of Sophia Loren in Two Women (La Ciociara), who did her own English dubbing. Adapted by director Vittorio De Sica and Cesare Zavattini from the novel by Alberto Moravia, Two Women is the semi-neorealist account of widow Cesira (Loren) and her teenaged daughter, Rosetta (Eleanora Brown), as they struggle to survive in war-ravaged Italy. A conventional romantic triangle between mother, daughter, and Michele (Jean-Paul Belmondo), is barely under way when the war rears its ugly head once more. Seeking shelter in a bombed-out church, Cesira and Rosetta are attacked and raped -- a horrifying sequence, capped by a freeze-frame close-up of Rosetta, her face a taut mask of terror (this image was enough to prompt a virulent "anti-smut" editorial in The Saturday Evening Post). Once they've recovered from this appalling experience, mother and daughter are offered a ride back to Rome by friendly truck driver Florindo (Renato Salvatori). Though Cesira had hoped to keep her daughter from compromising herself as a means of survival, she is crushed to discover that Rosetta has given herself to the truck driver in exchange for a pair of stockings. When Cesira and Rosetta finally reconcile, it is a grievous occasion, mourning the death of their mutual love, Michele. A last-minute replacement for Anna Magnani, Sophia Loren brought hitherto untapped depths of emotion to her performance in Two Women; she later stated that she was utilizing "sensory recall," dredging up memories of her own wartime experiences.

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Critic Reviews for Two Women (La Ciociara)

All Critics (8) | Fresh (7) | Rotten (1)

Audience Reviews for Two Women (La Ciociara)

  • Mar 11, 2017
    A gripping, weighty film, with an Italian women (Sophia Loren) and her 12-year-old daughter (Eleonora Brown) fleeing Rome towards the end of WWII. Director Vittorio De Sica is incredibly balanced in what was a highly charged subject: he shows Italians who had supported the fascists and Italians who were wealthy while the peasants around them starved, but most of all, he shows Italians simply trying to survive the end of the war. We see soldiers from England, Germany, America, Russia, and Morocco at various points in the film, with the woman and her child holed up with extended family in the hills, and then later trying to make their way back to Rome. It's fascinating to see this part of the war from the Italian perspective. What happens to the mother and her child in a bombed out church (perhaps a symbolic setting) is horrifying, but while the film has these dark elements, and people living under conditions of privation at a time when those around them were being killed randomly, it doesn't crush you with its darkness. I think that comes from the incredible strength in Loren's performance, which is wonderful. She is worthy of having won an Oscar for her performance, even with other nominees that year including Audrey Hepburn (Breakfast at Tiffany's) and Natalie Wood (Splendor in the Grass). Jean-Paul Belmondo is also excellent as an intellectual professor who seems to see the greater truth in the events that had befallen Italy, and who is often at odds with the peasants around him. De Sica is undoubtedly speaking directly to viewers when he has this character say that an alternate strategy on the part of the Allies would have led to fewer civilian deaths in the cities. He's not making excuses for his country, he's simply showing the very real tragedy of war. He does this throughout the movie with all the right touches, and shows the human spirit enduring despite it all. Great film.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Oct 02, 2012
    A mother and her daughter struggle to survive WWII in Italy. I don't have a lot to say about this film. I find it to be a film that I know I should like or at least respect, but I can't see what's so great or what's bad about it. Memorable moments like the film's ending and Sophia Loren's constantly defiant grimace are what will stay with me when I think of this film. I can tell that it's anti-war and an example of Italian cinema's neorealism, and while the film isn't inaccessible, it's not exactly common fodder either. Overall, I think I should stop writing; it's best to do so when one doesn't have anything intelligent to say.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Nov 05, 2011
    A very powerful drama about the tough life of two women during the World War II in Italy. Stunning performance from both Sophia Loren and Eleanora Brown. Couldn't have asked for a better performance than this.
    Cita W Super Reviewer
  • Feb 25, 2011
    Filmed in 1960 by Compagnia Cinematografica Champion (Co Produced) on location in Itri, Italy. This was only there second film and its outstanding. This was all Sophia Loren in this film with Elenora Brown playing her daughter. Brown's role was played well for a young girl at that time. The Movie is about the mother and daughter leaving Rome during the invasion of Italy by the Germans, they go back to there home in the country but face many challenges along the way. Including rape of both mother and daughter on there way back to Rome. Yes a war theme film. Excellent 1960 story and well made. I watched this one on Netflix instant watch, but it also can be watched for free at http://www.archive.org. 4 stars
    Bruce B Super Reviewer

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