'Life is Beautiful' Review: Inspiring, Emotionally Stirring, Painful

Plot Summary:
Life is Beautiful is the story of a courageous Jewish man who finds true love, starts a family and, due to the outbreak of WWII, must use his wit and determination to protect his family during their stay in a Nazi concentration camp.

Why It Makes My List:
This is not a blockbuster, comedy, action or even drama (really). I see it as a painfully honest story of an everyday man's courageous determination during extremely unforgiving circumstances. A fantastic, albeit painful, film. My recommendation would be to track down this classic film. While it is well out of theaters, it is available for rental or purchase here.

Other Reasons to Watch:
  1. Wonderful Score: I fell in love with this movie, not when I saw it, but when I first heard its soundtrack. I didn't even know what the film was about but I frequently rented the CD from the library because I found the music so filled with spirit, tranquility and narrative. The soundtrack is available on Amazon here
  2. Emotionally Stirring: While it is difficult for me to say that I "enjoyed" the film, I don't know that "entertainment" is its purpose. The protagonist's desperate struggle to preserve that ever elusive flame of innocence in his son is inspiring, to say the least. A fantastic, albeit painful, film. 
  3. Roberto Benigni at His Best: His role as Guido, the film's protagonist, is arguably Benigni's most memorable role - and with good reason. He brings a carefree charm and necessary sparkle to a film that, given its serious subject matter, could otherwise be a depressing visit to a frightening time in our history. 
Reasons to Pass:
  1. Slow to Get Started: The first half of the film takes place prior to the Nazi concentration camp and chronicles Guido's courtship with his future wife. While important to the emotional weight of the film, I feel the first half of the film is a bit overlong and could have been shortened to maintain audience interest and engagement. 
  2. Subtitle Haters Beware: This film is in Italian so, unless you know Italian, you'll need to be okay with subtitles. 

As always, I recommend checking out the IMDB.com Parents Guide just so that you are aware of any potentially objectionable material before deciding whether to watch it.