True, director Vittorio de Sica does show us rare glimpses of postwar Rome (using actual locations rather than studio settings was considered risky and technically challenging back in the day) and employing non-professional actors is still uncommon in feature films. (The entire cast of Bicycle Thief is made up of non-professionals.)
At its core,though, The Bicycle Thief is about a simple theft and its profound impact on one man (Lamberto Maggiorani, a factory worker in real life) and his family.
Especially memorable is the effect the theft has on the relationship between the father and his son, recounted in simply stated yet heartbreaking terms.
The film also shows us in unblinking detail the effects of WWII on the Italian working class.
Although it dates back to the Forties, the themes of the film are still more than relevant today. Because poverty and joblessness and its effect on men, women and children are still with us. And, perhaps, they always will be.