A Special Day

Drama | In Italian with English subtitles | 135 minutes


On May 6, 1938, Hitler visits Mussolini in Rome. The event is huge as the Italians overwhelmingly cheer their two “heroes.” While Antonietta, a naive and overworked housewife toils in her apartment, her fascist husband, Emanuele, and their six spoiled children take to the street and join the jubilant parade. Meanwhile, in an apartment across the courtyard, Gabriele, a charming, intellectual man, sits at his table contemplating suicide. He was just dismissed as a radio commentator because of his homosexuality. And, according to Italian law, he is about to be deported to Sardinia. Antonietta’s bird escapes from the cage and flies across the courtyard near Gabriele’s apartment. This brings the two neighbors together. They talk and they warm to each other. Gabrielle confesses that he is a homosexual. Antonietta pours out her anger that her husband is unfaithful and is having an affair with a more educated woman. Despite their differences, they manage to make love. Soon after Antonietta returns home, Gabriele is arrested. Antonietta can only sit by the window and watch while the person she really loves is escorted out by fascist policemen.

Sophia Loren (Antonietta) / Marcello Mastroianni (Gabriele) / John Vernon (Emanuele)
Why Stream This Film?
It’s an opportunity to see two magnificent actors give probably the best performances of their careers.
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 100%
  • Golden Globes: Winner, Best Foreign Language Film; Nominated, Best Actor (Marcello Mastroianni)
  • National Board of Review: Winner, Top Foreign Film
  • César Award: Winner, Best Foreign Film.
    David di Donatello Awards: Winner, Best Foreign Film; Best Actress (Sophia Loren)
  • The film received a perfect 100% rating from Rotten Tomatoes
Director Scola shifts the focus to a single, quietly observed relationship between two damaged souls. Rather than asking large questions about socio-economic circumstances of daily life and fascist rule, he grounds the bulk of the film’s running time to two people who meet by coincidence and ease each other’s pain simply by being honest and human.
Clayton Dillard


In Ettore Scola’s funny, humane A SPECIAL DAY—an acting tour de force for Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni—Atonietta and Gabriele are never really a couple, but their brief encounter lights up the screen with the kind of radiance you get only from great movie actors who are also great stars. A SPECIAL DAY has a solid foundation in honesty. The encounter enriches their lives, which, on a somewhat smaller scale, is what this film  does.
Vincent Canby

The New York Times

The sumptuous film, based on Cuarón’s own childhood, reverberates not only with innocence but with the awful intuition of its collapse.
Anthony Lane

The New Yorker

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