Life is Beautiful (1998)

LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL is wonderful.  Italian comic/writer/director Ro-
berto Benigi (THE MONSTER) accomplishes the impossible, creating a 
Holocaust comedy (!) that's fall-down funny, frequently touching, 
*and* 100% politically sensitive.  The first half is farce, as 
manic as any Marx Brothers movie; the second hour, set in a con-
centration camp, is a deft (though initially jarring) blend of 
both grave and whimsy.  (One of the film's most inspired moments 
has Benigi's clowning character easing the anxieties of his young 
song by ad-libbing the translation of a German soldier's rules of 
the camp.)  There's a likeable love story in there, too, that 
plays best during the film's first half.  Only toward the end of 
the second hour does Benigi's balancing act begins to wobble.  
(The... emotional pacing of the last half-hour seems a bit off.  
Kinda slow here, kinda rushed there.)  However flawed, however, 
this is still as endearing as any movie you're likely to see this 
year.  In Italian, with English subtitles.  Winner of the Grand 
Prize at this year's Cannes Film Festival.  (Rated "PG-13"/114 

Grade: B+

Copyright 1998 Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies as MOVIE HELL: November 16, 1998

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