Sunday, May 24, 2015
An overlooked entry in the neorealist canon, Rome 11:00 chronicles the buildup to and aftermath of a true-life event that encapsulates the dearth of opportunities in postwar Rome. Two-hundred women answer an ad for a secretarial position that, though menial, offers the hope of self-improvement. As the applicants crowd the staircase waiting to be interviewed, individual stories emerge. But their newfound fellowship evaporates with the disclosure that not all of them will be seen by management, and the ensuing chaos leads to tragedy. Directed by Giuseppe De Santis (whose Bitter Rice portrayed the female workforce in a rural setting), Rome 11:00 offers a vivid cross section of lives still stricken by war years later, from streetwalkers to fallen nobles to the offspring of struggling pensioners.