After many years working in the streets of Roma, the middle-age whore Mamma Roma (Anna Magnani) saves money to buy an upper class apartment, a fruit stand and retires from the prostitution. She brings her teenage son Ettore (Ettore Garofolo), who was raised alone in the country, to live with her, and Ettore becomes her pride and joy. However, the boy that does not want to study or work, joins to idle friends, has a crush on a bitch, and Mamma Roma uses her best but limited efforts to straight Ettore and make him an honest man. However, her past haunts her with tragic consequences.
Pier Paolo Pasolini's second feature film displays his eccentricities without veering into the perversity of his later work. Anna Magnani is all raw emotion as a former prostitute and the mother of a handsome teen-age son (Ettore Garofolo). In a sinister, voluptuous world of pimps and whores, the mother guides the boy with an overwrought abandon. Beneath the ribaldry, however, are forces pulling her toward a frightening past.
1995-01-18 | JANET MASLIN | Read the New York Times Review of Mamma Roma