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A rich older man's belated desire to investigate his beautiful wilful young wife' mysterious past reignites old passions with tragic consequences. For those viewers who are uncertain of Antonioni's capacity to make enjoyably great films, this may be a revelation especially if you have a penchant for post-WW2 film noir with its attendant malaise and melancholia. With suitable B&W photography and accompanying musical score and boasting one of the screen's great beauties, Lucia Bose, in her prime, this film is a masterpiece.
In Milano, when the wealthy and jealous entrepreneur Enrico Fontana
(Ferdinando Sarmi) discovers hidden photos of his gorgeous twenty-seven
year-old wife Paola Molon Fontana (Lucia Bosé), he hires a Neapolitan
detective agency to investigate her past. Enrico, who owns twenty
companies, married Paola during the war in March 1943 and her past is
unknown to him. Detective Morale Carloni (Gino Rossi) is assigned by
his boss to head to Ferrara, where Paola studied the technical school
after leaving her hometown in Rovigo. During his investigation, the
snoopy Carloni discovers that the teenager Paola dated many youngsters
and her best friends were Matilda Calvani and Giovanna Carlini, who
died seven years ago two days before her wedding with Guido (Massimo
Girotti). He gets the address of Guido with Matilda's father but his
wife sends a letter to Guido advising that the police was probing him.
Guido travels to Milano, where he meets Paola after seven years to show
the letter. When they see each other, their old passion reignites; but
Carloni is still chasing the truth about the tragic accident with
"Cronaca di un Amore" is the first feature of the director Michelangelo Antonioni and his debut could not be better. This film noir has a magnificent cinematography in black and white and unusual and sophisticated angles of camera. The story is engaging, with the gorgeous nineteen year-old Lucia Bosé, who was Miss Italy 1947, in the role of a twenty-seven year-old fatal woman married with a rich industrial that left an old passion after a tragic accident and revives her love when they reunite seven years later. The romance is quite a comedy of errors, with the feeling of guilt of Paola and Guido affecting their love. Milano in the after war with few cars on the streets is also impressive. My vote is eight.
Title (Brazil): "Crimes d'Alma" ("Crimes of Soul")
"Cronaca di un amore" was Antonioni's first full-length film. It's a
romantic film noir, full of passion, but very far from the Hollywood
It begins almost as a police film: an investigation is being led about Paola Molon. A detective is walking around, asking questions about her.
Seven years ago, Paola (Lucia Bosé) was in love with Guido (Massimo Girotti). Guido was engaged to Paola's best female friend, but there was already love between Guido and Paola. Still, one day a tragic accident happens. And this accident will tear Guido and Paola apart. And now this investigation will reunite them again. Their love is rekindled.
Paola is now married to a wealthy entrepreneur, lives in a mansion, has servants, a car with chauffeur etc.., but Guido' life has been a constant struggle to make ends meet. (Remember that we are in 1950, some years after the end of the war, and Italy was still far away from her economic boom).....
"Cronaca di un amore" shows already Antonioni as an accomplished master. His eye for small details be it in interior or exterior scenes, his ability in directing actors, his sensitive use of land and cityscape - all these qualities are displayed in full force in the film.
Lucia Bosé is an outstanding actress - she is able to portray intense and contradictory emotions just by her facial expressions. Her acting is subtle and powerful. She's a real diva. Giovanni Fusco's soundtrack is a perfect companion to Antonioni's images.
"Cronaca di un amore" is a very beautiful film.
The very first feature film of Michelangelo Antonioni, Story of a Love
Affair as introduced by Lorenzo Codelli, was a film that dealt with the
metaphysics, and had very little neo-realist elements which was a
departure from what one would come to expect from a filmmaker whose
documentaries were neo-realist. Watching it for the first time, I
thought it would make a wonderful thriller/crime-mystery involving two
lovers, and I suppose in the hands of Hollywood, we would get just
But this is not Hollywood we're talking about, so again I get to throw all standard notions I was weaned on out of the window. As I was warned by a friend, I would be in for a rough ride because whatever structure of story-telling I was familiar with was going to be challenged, and strangely enough, I am beginning to find this challenge quite liberating, like the hitting onto a goldmine or an oilfield, and just raking in the sights and sounds from how beautiful a black and white movie could be, in terms of story, and characters.
However, the characters need not be goody-two-shoes, or perfectly looking beings with zilch problems that they couldn't take care of within 2 hours. There are some serious and complex issues that the leads here have to grapple with, and together with an audience, we try and probe, and discover for ourselves just what those are, though naturally we aren't given all the answers on a sliver platter, and have to work hard at it, sometimes even utilizing some precious moments to breathe, digest, and compute, only being able to scratch the surface.
Whatever the story or mystery is, it never really got addressed, not directly anyway. But story aside, I was really intrigued by the lead characters. We have a beautiful married woman Paola Fontana (played by Lucia Bose whom we'll see later in another Antonioni movie, and at one time the reigning Miss Italy) who seem to have the best of what luxuries life can offer, but is stuck in a loveless marriage to a rich man Enrico (Ferdinando Sarmi). We're told that in her youth, she was a head turner, and almost always changes her boyfriends, each being the alpha-male type.
Surprisingly, her lover whom she maintains contact with, Guido (Massimo Girotti) is anything but an alpha-male type. In fact, I would call him a loser in the classic sense of the word. No real job and penniless, he has some magnetic qualities to be be able to mesmerize Paola into trysts in cheap motel rooms. Meeting on the sly, we see how a high society woman have to dodge around from being discovered, and setting up alibis just to meet Guido, and we soon learn how wicked a woman she can be, for coming up with plans for crime to be committed to get things done her way. Which brings us back to the original thought of how she was involved in a more heinous crime / accident, where she could well be the chief manipulator then made to be seen as the victim.
The main crime thread that got weaved into the story, was one involving a certain unseen Ms Giovanna, whose demise was linked to the two lovers. We never really learned what exactly happened, and Antonioni makes us work in order to try and piece clues and accounts together. And the probing of this mystery by a private investigator serves as a catalyst to the rest of the story, where we first see our lovers meet after a long while, but instead of enjoying each other's embrace, seem a lot more concerned with the PI's probe, as if afraid that it'll uncover hidden skeletons in their closets.
Story of a Love Affair becomes an examination into these 2 characters, and interesting enough, to dwell on the problems that they face, in a somewhat lose-lose situation throughout their relationship. The first was when Giovanna served to be in the way of their coming together, being an in-between, and when that's settled, there's the other more pressing issue of whether they can elope successfully, where pragmatism takes over romanticism with Guido knowing for sure that he has no money, and little means to support both of them, especially the lifestyle that Paola currently enjoys.
Definitely deserves a second viewing to try and develop my thoughts on it further! And to enjoy the beautiful score all over again too!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Antonioni's first fictional film and a picture of post-war anxiety,
"Story of a Love Affair" is the ironic tale of lovers who meet due to a
husband's suspicion, their dramatic history, and the decisions they
make to try to stay together. It takes on class issues, post-war
malaise, and struggles against fate... to name just a few things. In 98
short minutes, it's filled to the brim with pathos and intrigue, deceit
and passion, and fear and doubt.
It's a lot to take on for a "first" film, but Antonioni handles himself well, helped along very well by the actors. This is the first film of Antonioni's I've seen where the male character seems to have as much presence as the female. One can see some of Antonioni's later conceits beginning to develop, such as his eye for architecture and landscape, his dramatic sense of "the gaze", and his opinion that "Eros is sick."
This film also probably has more dialog than any other feature Antonioni has ever made. It is, in fact, so full of dialog that it's somewhat exhausting, though the dialog itself is very well written and poignant. The exhaustive quality of it actually helps the viewer relate to the ennui and entrapment felt by Paola and Guido, but it does weigh the movie down. Still, there are enough moments of silent contemplation and visual narration to release the movie from that tension and give the story a strong flow.
It's a good movie on its own right and a definite note of interest to Antonioni fans. It may not be widely known, and it's never been widely successful, but it has character and contemplation worthy of an art film buff.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Antonioni’s belated feature-film debut is a fine romantic melodrama
which is actually a variation on a favorite noir theme – that of the
lovers planning to dispose of a third party who stands between them.
Another genre device adopted here is the investigative framework – with
the intended victim himself, the girl’s husband, suddenly deciding to
pry into her past.
Paradoxically, the young couple had been involved in the ‘accidental’ death of the man’s ex-girlfriend – and, unaware of the source behind the current investigation, are afraid that the old ‘crime’ has come back to haunt them! Antonioni’s coup, then, is in the way that the couple are so blinded by their passion for each other – they’ve been brought together anew by a letter informing them of the investigation, after having opted to go their separate ways so as not to arouse suspicion over the death of their common acquaintance – that they don’t realize that history is about to repeat itself. Even if they succeed in getting rid of the girl’s husband, they still can’t be together: the final irony is that the husband’s death occurs in spite of themselves in a road accident – but the girl has no way of knowing this and, when the police arrive at her house bearing the tragic news, she panics and flees...
Still, the central relationship isn’t the most solid: the couple even admit to themselves that, hadn’t the letter of warning been sent, their paths would probably never have crossed again; besides, the girl expects the man to tolerate the fact that she married someone else – but, whenever she sees him in the company of an attractive model, she works up a jealous temper! The two stars are very well cast: in a career spanning six decades (with appearances in everything from Art-house to peplums and “Euro-Cult”), Massimo Girotti was one of the most durable of Italian leading men – actually, he had played a similar role to the one here in another important debut in Italian cinema, Luchino Visconti’s OSSESSIONE (1943). Lucia Bose' was not only a top star (particularly during the 1950s) but one of the loveliest female presences ever in Italian cinema – again, her filmography has been quite varied and included performances for such renowned masters of World Cinema as Luis Bunuel, Jean Cocteau, the Taviani brothers, Federico Fellini, Francesco Rosi, etc.
In comparison to his later work, which borders on abstraction, the director’s approach to narrative here is decidedly conventional – as if he was still finding his feet…but, make no mistake about it, this is a startlingly assured (even refined) first film. By the way, at one point, a character in the film makes a reference to Camille – interestingly, Antonioni later made THE LADY WITHOUT CAMELIAS (1953) with the same leading lady! Finally, it’s worth noting that several elements typical of Antonioni’s cinema are already in evidence here: the plot mechanics being merely the excuse for a probing character study, the fated love affair, the fickle nature of relationships, the criticism of the jaded rich, the gloomy locations, the would-be mystery, etc.
Unfortunately, my experience watching STORY OF A LOVE AFFAIR was somewhat dampened by the distractingly ‘processed’ sound-effects pretty much throughout the entire duration of the film – which seem to be the result of an over-zealous digital restoration! Similarly, even if I have no way of knowing whether this is how it was supposed to sound, Giovanni Fusco’s histrionic score came off as deafeningly loud and, consequently, drowned out part of the dialogue!
To date, there are 13 reviews of this film. Perhaps all the writers saw this movie theatrically. I have the Bo-ying version of USA'a NoShame DVD, and, to say the least, it certainly ranks as the most extraordinary DVD I've ever seen in my life! Presumably, as the original negative was destroyed in a fire in 1989, this DVD has been reconstructed from bits and pieces of the original Italian version and the dubbed English-language version, and then re-sub-titled. A huge effort has been made to make the LOOK of the film consistent -- even when the version used changes -- which it OFTEN does -- right in the middle of a scene! And would you believe that -- with this direct comparison facing us every couple of minutes -- the English-language version is actually superior to the original Italian. The acting is superior and even the syncing is better. (As most of you know, all Italian films are post-dubbed -- and not necessarily by the original actors). But that's not the end of the matter. The sub-titles we see with our eyes often don't fully agree with what we hear with our ears. In at least two cases, the sub-titles (presumably based on the Italian version) are the exact opposite to what we actually hear! And many of the titles also carry extra (rather than less) information. As for the movie itself, I loved it! Beautifully photographed, exquisitely acted, and most engagingly directed. Until now, I was not an Antonioni fan. But anyone who loves streetcars is a friend forever. And there are more streetcars in "Story of a Love Affair" than in any other movie I can think of, except Bunuel's wonderful 1953 homage, "Illusion Travels by Streetcar".
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A wealthy Milan industrialist--Enrique knows nothing about the past of
his beautiful young wife--Paola. He hires a detective agency after he
discovers some old photos belonging to Paola.
The detective agency sends some one to poke around Paola's past.
The detective discovers she tried to steal her best friend Giovanna's fiancé Guido. They (Paola and Guido) share a secret about the death of Giovanna shortly before her wedding.
Guido finds out about the detective and goes to Milan to warn Paola. The flame between them after 7 years is still strong...they begin to have an affair.
Paola soon enough realizes Enrique is in the way and she prods Guido into murdering him...only chance and fate again play some cards in this dark twisting emotional three way. You never know what is going to happen next.
The feature film debut of future Italian cinema star Michelangelo
Antonioni is quite conventional and straightforward as compared to his
later works, which are generally regarded as masterpieces. Though not
in that category, this film ranks as a very well-made melodrama that
dares to also include exploration of the darkest of human desires,
specifically within the context of marriage and fidelity.
Chance also plays a large role here, helping to reunite former lovers who pick up where they left off, ironically thanks to the woman's husband hiring a private detective to follow her as he suspects she is having an affair. What follows is often high-strung, dense and very moving as Antonioni shows us the most desolate shots of the beautiful city Milan. Many of the establishing shots are long shots of corridors, streets and other walkways that create great sense of alienation, isolation and illicit activities. The ending may require a bit of explaining but still fits the overall tone of elegy and bitter sadness. A powerful and moving Italian melodrama that certainly could be used as a template for American filmmakers today.
Antononoi's first feature film deals with a jealous husband looking
into the past of his wife, Paola, via private investigator, which
inadvertently gets her back together with an old lover, Guido, who
unlike the rich wife, is a poor, barely scraping by car salesman.
Although the two seem to be in love with each other, the difference in
economic status and Paola's marriage keep them apart. Also looming over
them is the shadow of an "accident" they feel responsible for.
Many have called this a sort of noir, and it's easy to see why. Paola could be seen as bordering the line of a femme fatale, there's the past catching up, the grey morality of the characters, etc. However if one were to watch this alongside noirs like Double Indemnity, Laura, and Out of the Past, they would fine "Story of a Love Affair" feels completely different, and besides these tropes, hardly feels like a noir. It would be safer to say the film has noir elements.
Like a number of Antononoi's later works, the film deals with alienation, as well as the bourgeoise. The disenfranchised characters who easily fall into damning passions is present here. The plot is very intricate and the film is carried by mostly dialogue, as opposed to later films where imagery would play more prominence. Although not as grandiose as the cinematography from films like "The Adventure" and "la Notte", his touches can certainly be seen in this splendidly crafted first film.
Thankfully, the writing and characterization is more than enough to carry things here. The multitude of plot threads, characters and themes are woven masterfully, and while not featuring the most sympathetic characters in the world, they are certainly fascinating ones, and that's enough.
If you can find this and are a fan of these kinds of films, it's well worth checking out.
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