The Garden of the Finzi-Continis
Time Out saysDe Sica's most watchable film in years of crude farces and coarse melodramas. Based on the novel by Giorgio Bassani and set in Ferrera in 1938, it deals with the net of persecution that gradually closes in on Italian Jews as Mussolini models his state ever more closely on Hitler's Germany. External events hold the film in a vice-like grip, while its dreamy evocation of a doomed way of life ambivalently records the placidity with which the aristocratically wealthy Finzi-Continis - retreating within their walled estate when they are no longer welcome outside - simply wait for fate to overtake them. Formally beautiful, sometimes moving, it's ultimately rather hollow.