Riso Amaro (1949) is an italian film written and directed by Giuseppe De Santis in the style of Italian neorealism. Two characters, Walter and Francesca are fleeing the cops with a stolen diamond necklace. While running in the train station, Walter slips the jewellery to Francesca and shoves her towards the train. The train sill bring her to the North of Italy where she will be working on the rice fields. After boarding she meets Silvana with whom she is forced to become friends with when Silvana finds out about the necklace. As Francesca and Silvana get to know each other better, the bonds of their relationship provides a strand of dramatic tension by the burden of the necklace. Silvana is soon overcome by jealousy and she takes the stolen diamond necklace.
world After long days of labour Francesca dreams of the possibility of an easier life with Walter and the necklace, far away from the rice field. Meanwhile Walter arrives and he starts to manipulate both women to his own ends. He dreams up a scheme and convinces Silvana to help him by betraying the community of rice workers.
owner There is a shot in the film when Silvana is dancing, she lifts her long hair in order to flaunt the stolen necklace on het throat and to remind Francesca on the crime. In the end, Silvana shoots Walter and realises, that the necklace – the engine of the whole action – is fake and commits suicide.
material A fake diamond necklace coveted by two women. Jewels, ambiguity, transitoriness, a pretext to subvert the whole notion of what is real. This is what turns rice (in the untranslatable double meaning in Italian of ‘rice’ and ‘laughter’) bitter.