Ermanno Olmi wrote, edited and directed this film about the problems of an upper middle class family. The husband, who is middie-aged. appears likely to lose his job as the company he works for streamlines its operations. His wife also works, and the family runs a cattle farm. The teenage daughter is indifferent to her mother, and preoccupied with her own first love affairs. One of the two sons has withdrawn into a private world of tinkering with electronics. He is hoping to construct a new kind of robot.
The mother compensates for lack of contact within her own family by taking an excessive interest in the victim of a road accident she witnesses. She takes a young boy to the hospital and cares for him. But she realizes, when his parents come to take him away, that the episode is finished and the family will continue to drift apart.
'It is a haunting, elliptical fragmented work, critical of the haute bourgeoisie of Northern Italy... despite the simple surface, it is a dense ironic work.' Film
'This is not so much a critique of the institution of family as a case history, and the diagnosis is gloomy but realisitc. The death of the family, Oimi seems to be suggesting, is both inevitable and painful.' David Wilson, Sight and Sound,/p>
FIPRESCI Prize, Locarno