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Anna Maria Ferrero,
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Clelia comes from Rome to her native Turin, to set up a new fashion salon. On her first night, the woman in the next room of her hotel takes an overdose of pills. Clelia becomes involved with this woman, Rosetta, and three of her rich women friends, Momina, Nene, and Mariella. Momina is older than the others, and lives apart from her husband. Her current lover is Cesare, the architect of Clelia's salon. Nene is a talented ceramics artist, and lives with her fiance, the painter Lorenzo. Mariella is a flighty woman only interested in having a good time. Clelia becomes attached to Carlo, the architect's assistant, but the other women look down on him as he comes from a working class background. Momina, with the help of Clelia, discovers that Rosetta fell in love with Lorenzo as he was painting her portrait. Momina then encourages Rosetta to go after Lorenzo, even though he and Nene were supposed to marry soon. Written by
It is generally agreed that, in this film, Michelangelo Antonioni settled on the themes that would populate all his later films. These would come noticeably to the fore five years later in L'Avventura (1960), probably the definitive Antonioni film. See more »
This is a little-seen 1955 film by Michelangelo Antonioni, shot before he really got into the sort of directorial wonderment's of L'Avventura and The Eclipse in the 1960's. In fact one has to have seen several of his films, if not an outright fan of his work, to appreciate that it's one of his films.
It's really a melodrama that is given a one-up from its soap-opera tendencies in its story by Antonioni's fluid camera style and the performances. There are little moments- again if you know his work a little bit- where you can see the inklings of what would come in the prime of his career as an art-house theater master. But if you're a newcomer to his work it works just as well, if not better, because of how it is told without pretense.
Clelia (Eleonora Rossi Drago) is set to run a fashion salon. She becomes apart of a group of fairly well-off late-20, early-30-something women after one of the girls, Rosetta (Madeline Fischer) overdoses on pills. She becomes close to them, or close as she would want to be, and sees how close-knit they are - and, as girlfriends can tend to be, occasionally vicious in verbal ways, such as a scene on a beach that is shaky at best and volatile at worst - and also their romantic relationships.
One of them is an affable architect, Cesare, who becomes closer to Momina (the older one of the group), and Clelia becomes attracted to Carlo, Cesare's assistant, which brings up some class issues as he's not, shall we say, as "well-off" as everybody else. Meanwhile, Rosetta tries to bring back some normalcy or just stability to her situation, but she falls for Lorenzo, a painter, who is already romantically involved with Nene, another of the girlfriends.
Their confrontation about the Lorenzo situation, between Nene and Rosetta, with Nene mostly talking, is one of the more startling things about the film. Again, a lot of this could be construed as soap-opera stuff: she sleeps with him, he sleeps with her, she's jealous of her, she's spiteful of her, so on and so on. But that one scene, where Nene tells Rosetta off, is powerful because it's not as over the top as one might expect.
It comes at a point in the film where there has already been some drama (again, the very wonderful beach scene, with its slight, subtle nod to the scenes at the rocky coast in L'Avventura), and it's a scene that gains its power from how simply Nene speaks about the affair and how she feels about it. It's moments like that, or when Rosetta walks with her lover on a street and they talk, that make it so worthwhile as drama. Antonioni casts the group very well, which helps, especially for Rosetta, who is played by Fischer as a fragile person but not so weak as to always be pushed around. And the male actors are surprising in their sensitivity to their roles.
It's is one of the director's finer films, and a good introduction to his work if not by way of the sort of existential malaise of a La Notte or Red Desert then to the underrated attention to characters and emotions Antonioni can have when he's most focused, and in classic black and white no less shot by the great Gianni Di Venanzo. It's like Lifetime for mature people, and lovers of 1950's-set Italian cinema (or, to put it another way, like a "chick-flick" version of Fellini's I Vittelloni).
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