I know next to nothing about neorealist film except from what I gain from the genre title itself. I feel like average modern cinema doesn't pay too much attention to whether or not a story is realistic or absurd, etc. Not that all filmmakers are on the same track, of course. What I'm inarticulately attempting to say is that the average movie fare (the action movies, the romcoms, and even some of the period pieces, etc) seem to me to be loaded with metaphorical cheese. Hollywood is famous for this, of course...and cheese sells. An example of metaphorical cheese might be Matthew MacFayden(sp?)'s last lines in the new P&P: "I love you, I love you, I love you..." or "Mrs.Darcy" or whatever. UGH. I'm sorry. This just....no. Sorry. No.
So many films throughout time are a little bit on the sappy, contrived side. I'm not saying films should Always be realistic, but it's so refreshing when something really hits home. A movie doesn't have to try to be some high brow intellectual masterpiece in order to make you feel something. The Bicycle Thief (1948) makes you Feel Something, makes you feel a lot, and really really want to marry a good man one day and have a couple kids, including one adorable boy who follows your man around and is his best friend. Did I just...I just typed that, didn't I? And this is going to be on the internet...huh...oh well. Seriously, on a personal note, I think I have a thing for movies about little boys having good relationships with their fathers. First I teared up at Kramer Vs Kramer, and now this. But nevermind me.
The story takes place in impoverished, Post-WWII Italy. The hero is so poor that when he finally gets a job (that requires a bicycle) his wife has to sell their bed sheets so that he can buy his bike back. I read that the director, Vittorio De Sica cast non-actors for the roles, and no real actors could have done a better job. I highly recommend this one. I nearly cried three or four times.