L’Avventura (1960)

Movie Review

L'Avventura poster

Lavventura (1960) directed by Michelangelo Antonioni is a film about boredom. Boredom of the Italian bourgeoisie. Ostensibly a mystery and a detective story it depicts the emptiness of the lives of a group of rich Italians as they go through their daily lives striving to find something to stave off their deadly ennui. Usually they do this through sexual peccadillo and intrigue.

Albert Camus in his celebrated essay on the Myth of Sisyphus posited that there are only two valid philosophical questions: 1) in the face of the absurdity of existence and a life devoid of meaning should I commit suicide? 2) if no, the how do I overcome ennui? This theme is fully explored in L’Aventurra. While Camus says that in a life devoid of meaning we must give our lives meaning by our our own actions the characters in this film are merely going through the paces of living and relieving their boredom in the most meaningless way possible. In in the end they are mere empty shells truly devoid of  any meaning.

Anna & Sandro

The group of wealthy Italians head out on a yachting trip to a deserted volcanic island in the Mediterranean. When they are about to leave the island, they discover that Anna (Lea Massari) has disappeared. Sandro (Gabriele Ferzetti) , who is Anna’s fiance and Claudia (Monica Vitti) , Anna’s friend, try without success to find her. While looking for Anna Claudia and Sandro develop an attraction for each other. When they get back to land, they continue the search with no success. Sandro and Claudia proceed to become lovers, betraying the missing Anna. They then search the Italian countryside and various cities in search of her and have an adventure and fling of their own while doing so.

Claudia & Sandro

Beyond the meaning of the film there is there is the theatricality and cinematic quality of the camera work which serves to support the themes of the movie. Antonioni is known for his geometric compositions, static camera, and long takes. This is what I especially admire in his films and this one is no exception.

When first viewed by audience at Cannes it was booed. Later it won the Jury prize and has become acclaimed as a masterpiece.

 

I rate this film 8/10.

Another Woman

Another Woman

“I realize you have been hurt. If I’ve done anything wrong, I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I accept your condemnation.”

“You are a member of Amnesty International and the ACLU. And the head of the philosophy department. Impossible!”

These are two of my favorite quotes from the Woody Allen film, Another Woman. I like them each equally well but for different reasons. The first is such an outrageous statement by a phony pomposity of an ego so far gone as to defy augury and the other hits a little too close to home with the exception of being the head of the philosophy department. Woody Allen strikes gold here with his study of intellectual angst and mid life crisis. It would not be too much of an exaggeration to declare this film to be a mini-masterpiece.

I ran across this neglected, forgotten and, probably one you never heard of mini-masterpiece while scrolling through HULU one night looking for something decent to watch.  Oh, a film by Woody Allen! Let me check it out. Probably seen it before but what the heck? So I cued it up and started watching. Curiously enough I didn’t remember anything about it and was soon captivated and mesmerized by the haunting voice-over by one of it’s  stars and the brilliant cinematography of one of the worlds foremost cinematographers.

Another Woman was released in late 1988 and runs for 81 minutes. It was written and directed by Woody Allen. It stars Gena Rowlands as Marion Post, a middle aged philosophy teacher who is on sabbatical to write a book.  It is her voice-over we hear as the movie begins. She is describing her life as accomplished and reasonably well settled.

She rents an apartment downtown to work on her book without distraction and discovers that she is able to overhear the conversation between a patient (Mia Farrow) and her psychiatrist through the heating vents coming from the adjoining apartment. At first Marion blocks off the sound with pillows but later she starts to listen in. The patient is despondent, pregnant, and thinking of ending her life. Her name ironically is Hope.

This conversation gets Marion to thinking about her own life and through  series of coincidences, ruminations and, flashbacks, she encounters people from previous times in her life and she discovers she is not as happy as she thought she was.

This is a film of introspection and marvelous performances. A central theme of the film is that people can transform their lives to become more fulfilled. To say the film was Bergmanesque is rather stating the obvious. It has long been known that Woody has been greatly influenced by the Swedish master, Ingmar Bergman. Some say that this film resembles Wild Strawberries but I think it is more Persona like, which was also photographed by Sven Nykvist, Bergman’s favored cinematographer.

This is a wonderful film which I highly recommend.