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Twenty-three years after L'Avventura (1960), Michelangelo Antonioni returns to Lisca Bianca Island. The rarefied atmosphere of Lea's disappearance is recalled by some audio excerpts from the original movie.
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
Lighter (at times), more emotionally complex, yet symbolically simpler than later films by Antonioni. This reminded me more of Fellini, Woody Allen, and (in the lighter, early moments) even Almodovar.
It goes without saying that the film is great looking (could Antonioni frame a bad shot?). And it has lots of plot, surprising from a filmmaker who soon after ran from traditional plot and story. Lovers change hands, lives rise and fall among five female friends (artists, clothing designers, etc).
This is labeled a masterpiece by some, but to me it felt a bit too soapy, and some of the characters and performances a bit one note or on-the-nose to raise it to quite that level. I was never bored, and the images were thrilling, but I didn't find myself caring deeply on a conventional level, nor drawn in on a more intellectual, poetic level as the later Antonioni films do. But all that said, I'm still glad I saw it.
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