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Anna Maria Ferrero,
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Six separate episodes: would-be suicides discuss their despair. A provincial dance hall. An investigative reporter posing as a husband-to-be. A young unwed mother. Girl-watching techniques of Italian men. A glimpse into prostitution.
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
One of my Italian favorites! The movie I heartily recommend!
Clelia (Eleonora Rossi Drago), an elegant lady from Rome, comes to her hometown Turin in order to check if the works would fit the dates in the house where she is going to establish her new fashion salon. When she stays at a hotel, a terrible event takes place in the opposite room 112...a young woman, Rosetta Savone (Madeleine Fischer), has attempted to commit suicide... Why? The answer lies in the complicated relations of a group of women whom Rosetta has known for long and whom Clelia joins as a friend. Although the action starts in "media res" and the events constitute about 7 days, the characters from this movie are unforgettable as well as its content filled with wonderful thoughts about significant aspects of life and happiness. Therefore, although Michelangelo Antonioni is famous worldwide not thanks to this movie, I consider LE AMICHE one of his very best cinema works. Let me discuss some of the film's strongest points in more details.
The film can boast a particularly rich character development. The girlfriends (title "amiche") are mostly women from leisure social classes who spend their lives on unimportant cases, particularly clothes, parties, and Sunday afternoon trips to the seaside. Momina De Stefani (Yvonne Furneaux) is the oldest of them but at the same time the most selfish. She treats life as a game to play limiting it to perfumes, beauty creams and clothes. It is her that bores Rosetta most by her cynical behavior. Mariella (Anna Maria Pancani), a woman that today men would describe "a dolly", represents this vanity most. She thinks the woman's dress is skin and is ready to do anything to look beautiful. In between comes Nene (Valentina Cortese) who is rather torn psychologically between her interests and the reality she lives in (marriage). Rosetta is tired of living with them and looks for a true and stable happiness with a man she cannot marry... Throughout the film, a viewer can feel what characters feel since great focus is put on emotions. However, it would be a limited view to say that only female characters are developed. There are also men who step in with their different world-views. The emphasis is put on Lorenzo (Gabrielle Ferzetti), Nene's husband, an artist painter whose career and family life are exposed to crisis. He cannot stand the vanity of the women but at the same time is torn between his desire for career and the marriage he lives in. Finally, Cesare (Franco Fabrizi), an architect, man from high society represents rather an arrogant person but in the end, someone who does not treat problems as seriously as Lorenzo. In this way, LE AMICHE is not only a story of women but, foremost, an interesting insight into male-female relations, their different world-views, different feelings. Consider Rosetta-Lorenzo conversation and the two different ways they see love...
Besides, Antonioni's movie is a treasure of psychological thoughts and treatment of significant issues of life. Here, a mention must be made of Nene-Lorenzo's marriage and the aspect of forgiveness. "A childless couple can stay together only for love" says Nene to Rosetta in their conversation that is a masterpiece of acting and script by Suso Cecchi d'Amico. Yet, forgiveness cures everything... Apart from that, the words that a salon's lady says to Clelia are also worth consideration: "Happiness means no reflecting upon if I am happy or not but simply living my life." I also loved the moment when Rosetta travels by train with Clelia and they talk about the need of friends, the gist of being happy and the best possible way to live life. How intellectually these problems are treated! Magnificent! And all this embedded in the interesting gentle tunes by Mario Fusco.
The cast give such fine performances that viewers have a chance to get to know the characters much better than in many other films. Yvonne Furneaux is exceptionally memorable as cynical and calm nerved Momina whose sole aim of life is the good appearance and who plays with others' feelings. Eleonora Rossi Drago is very sensible as Clelia expressing her elegance and positive character of a woman who finds happiness in her satisfying work. Madeleine Fischer is wonderful as Rosetta Savone, a desperate person who cannot live a happy life. Finally, Valentina Cortese is unforgettable as Nene, probably the fairest of them all ready to sacrifice everything and forgive everything.
LE AMICHE shows the life from its objective perspective and therefore it is a movie absolutely worth attention for anybody. LE AMICHE is filled with profound thoughts even if its content seems to be filled with vanity and therefore, it is Antonioni's psychological masterpiece. LE AMICHE is an empathy with those in despair and therefore, it is not dated though more than 50 years old. Finally, LE AMICHE is characterized by great performances and therefore, it is a pearl among Italian films. Pity that there are so few comments on the site. 8/10!
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