The Straw Man

Pietro Germi directed and stars in this bittersweet romance (1958) about a middle-aged factory supervisor who has an affair with a young neighbor while his wife is away and must cope with the consequences when she returns. The husband's trysts are infused with a feeling of warmth and liberation, but the tone sobers up and then turns moralistic when he decides to ditch his mistress to restore the harmony of his nuclear family. Germi has called the film Brief Encounter transposed to the world of The Bicycle Thief, a fairly accurate assessment. Yet a key visual reference point is The Third Man: shooting on location in a workers' apartment complex in Rome, Germi throws shadows on buildings and presents the interiors in deep focus to enhance the sense of disorientation and furtiveness. 120 min.

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