Review: Two Women (1961)

Two Women or La Ciociara is a touching story of a mother, Rosetta (Sophia Loren) trying to raise her barely 13-year old daughter, Cesira, during the Second World War.

Rosetta is a woman broken by her loveless marriage and the war. She and her daughter leave Rome to escape from the daily air raids day and to seek a quieter existence in the Italian countryside. This is part of Rosetta’s desperate attempt to preserve Cesira’s innocence. They only discover that the countryside is not as peaceful. The final 30 minutes of Two Women are utterly heartbreaking. Rosetta experiences every possible emotional state imaginable.

This was my first Sophia Loren movie and I was blown away by her performance. I never really knew much about her before other than she is considered to be one of the most beautiful women ever. I’ll admit that at first I thought at the start of this film, when you are as gorgeous as Sophia Loren is, you don’t deserve to be that talented. Yet it is those final moments, when her character experiences the pain of being violated by men again and losing a loved one, of seeing her daughter hurt and seeing the war steal what was left of Cesira’s innocence that convinced me otherwise.  It is incredible to say the least.

Two Women is also very significant in film history. For her role of Rosetta, Sophia Loren received the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. This was the first Oscar ever given for a performance in foreign-language film. That has only happened two times. Roberto Benigni won in 1999 for Life is Beautiful; his award was presented by Sophia Loren.

All in all, Two Women is a film that is not only war and its disastrous affects, but the lasting bond between a mother and daughter that is heartbreaking and an overall rewarding movie watching experience.

Updated: April 29, 2011

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