In the first film history class that I took I learned the word “verisimilitude” and was introduced to, and fell in love with, Italian neorealism. Films like Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves (1948) changed how I looked at cinema. Italian neorealist films are distinguished by being shot on location among the poor, often using non-actors in situations that reflected the desperate times that followed the end of World War Two. These films about survival are intensely moving, uncomfortable, disturbing and utterly captivating.
The Lesson (Urok, Bulgaria 2014) seems to me like a contemporary take on Italian neorealism substituting post-WWII Italy with Bulgaria in the more current European economic crisis. Continue reading