Rossi has a delicate touch in depicting the bonds of affection between Anna and Lidia, and the little girl’s yearning to be a part of her peer group is drawn with special subtlety. Both actresses turn in impeccable perfs, especially Ponziani, who has been slowly growing in stature in a series of Italian arthouse films. Her disastrous love affair with her capitalist boss (a still-dashing Franco Nero), who pretends to love her only so he can destroy her in the eyes of her comrades, rings achingly true, with Ponziani emotionally deep and convincing. Her unwavering convictions and the courage she shows in standing up to the cell’s demands of “either him or us” make Lidia a memorable heroine.
But so is Anna, who realizes all by herself that the medal she covets is just a conformist’s badge. Hearing on the radio that the Rosenbergs have been executed (a story she has followed anxiously throughout the film), she throws away her medal — “earned” because she finally made her First Communion.
Rossi is a conscientious director who concentrates on telling the story, rather at the expense of the tech credits, which have a fatally dated TV look about them. A well-penned script by Maria Rosa Valli, Paolo Castaldini and Rossi offers the characters a solid framework within which to develop. Patrizio Marone’s editing gives pic a calm, steady pace.