Unhappy people in unhappy circumstances. Gino is a drifter. Not because he has no talent. He is a lost soul looking for an undefined future and is determined to not be tied to anything until he finds his personal nirvana. Giovanna wants the security of being settled, but is unhappy with the man who made it possible. She too, is a lost soul in search of an undefined future. With only passion as a common denominator, they cast their lots with each other and start in motion a chain of events that brings none of the joys anticipated.
Don't expect this movie to be a study of life in WWII Italy. Though made during the war, it is never an issue. Indeed, with the prevalence of young men throughout the movie, it is more likely an image of pre-war Italy. And although some reviewers speak of subtle references to homosexuality, such is unnecessary in describing the Spaniard. Identical scenes in American Westerns are understood to be simply friendship and the necessities of circumstance, i.e., one bed and two people in need of sleep.
Every nuance of the movie hinges upon the passion of Gino and Giovanna, complicated by his desire to be going somewhere, anywhere, and her desire to remain settled. It's a traumatic but absorbing ride, even with the distraction of reading sub-titles.