Steve Moyle’s review published on Letterboxd:
I've been experiencing a bit of writers block over the last week or so and have been watching much more films then usual obviously having much more time to do so. I was making an effort of at least writing something about everything I was watching during this epidemic but I think I just started watching to much and couldn't keep up. Anyway i'm starting to get some of that writing spirit back and hope to get back to writing a lot more and I also just had a very interesting experience with this film that ended up being a lot different then my initial viewing of it which was for the first time six years ago. It's interesting because it's clearly likely to watch a film and think it's very good but not exactly great only to come back to it years later finding it to be truly great.
Something different happened to me with Life Is Beautiful as when I first saw it I was certain it was an absolute masterpiece but coming back to it i'm actually a bit underwhelmed. Obviously when going by the rating it's obvious that I still consider it to be fantastic but in those six years since watching it I've obviously seen many more films and have a much better understanding of cinema then before. I don't exactly have some of the problems with it as a lot of others do regarding the goofiness in the film when regarding it's tragic and dark nature but more that it's just so formulaic and just simply didn't seem as impressive. For what it is though it has it's great points and I'm glad I saw it again even though it slightly tarnished my greater memories of it.
Anyway it's set in Italy in the 30's and follows the life of a Book keeper named Guido (Roberto Benigni) who has Jewish in him. He's a real charmer and towards the start of the film a woman just happens to fall into his arms more then once named Dora (Nicoletta Braschi), she's planning to get married to a man that isn't fond of Guido but her and Guido soon connect. Guido lives his life in the way of a fantasy and after hearing his friend tell him that he knows how to do certain things magically he uses the power of his mind to lead a happy life. Not before to long him and Dora get married and have a Son, it all starts off with immense energy and is just so loveable and humanistic and full of hope and joy. That's the first half of the film and by the second half of course with Guido being Jewish him his Wife and Son are all taken away by Nazi's to a concentration camp.
Guido doesn't want his son to know the truth and behind all of the darkness he pretends that they are both part of a game and he sets rules on how to win it, it's tragic to watch this as Guido just wants his son to be alright but he knows the truth. There's a hilarious scene when a Nazi officer asks if anyone speaks German and Guido gets up and stands next to him transforming all the violent things the officer is saying into this fun game him and his son will be playing where the winner wins a Tank. The film is pretty well acted and well shot, it's funny but also sad, it balances moods pretty well and especially has a ending that is sure to stick with you and overall does what it aimed for well.