DVD Reviews: Two Women and A Special Day

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Fans of foreign and arthouse films are in a for a real treat with new independent label CultFilms launching a library of must-see movies with two award-winning classics starring screen siren Sophia Loren, writes Tony Spittles.

Out this week is the neo-realist drama Two Women (15) which will be followed next Monday by a rarely seen masterpiece, A Special Day (12).

Set against the backdrop of World War II, Two Women (adapted from Alberto Moravia’s novel La Ciociara) saw Loren delivering an Oscar-winning performance as a beautiful young widow Cesira who, with her 12-year-old daughter, leaves Rome to escape the horrors of the conflict, but find that the devastating tragedy of war continues to haunt them.

French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo (Breathless) co-stars in this 1960 movie, from celebrated director Vittorio De Sica, which also scooped a Golden Globe for best Foreign Film on its release.

Rome is also the setting for next week’s release of the 1977 drama A Special Day, directed by Ettore Scola, in which Ms Loren shares the billing with La Dolce Vita star Marcello Mastroianni.

The couple -- she’s a busy housewife, he’s a mysterious gay neighbour -- stay away from the street parade to welcome Adolf Hitler on his state visit to the Italian capital in 1938, but their chance meeting is destined to change their perceptions of love, politics and life forever.

Both lovingly restored releases sell for £15.99 and, in addition to bonus documentaries of Ms Loren and both directors, also feature a unique option giving viewers the chance to watch an Italian version with improved (switchable) English subtitles or a spoken audio track in English.