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Disorder is very much like some of the other, more noteworthy, Italian dramas being made in the early 1960's. The plot is a loose series of bad parties and depressed states held together by an observer (in this case an unemployed waiter). La Dolce Vita and La Notte would both be fair comparisons. Disorder feels more like a cash-in, an attempt to exploit the foreign public's then fascination with the soulless lives of the Italian decadent. Like the journalist in La Dolce Vita, the main character of Disorder is not part of this world. Unlike The Fellini film, Disorder does give a fair amount of time to this outsider's problems (unemployment, a sick mother). Of course, the outsider's life is just as miserable as the well-to-do characters in the film.
Disorder, which screened on 16mm as part of a campus film series this summer, is a mostly forgotten movie with a poor reputation. A certain falseness hangs over the film, which thinks it's more meaningful than it is. Still, the film has its strengths as well. The black and white cinematography is nice to look at. The photography is particularly striking in the moody first vignette where a dying man's son insists on throwing a nighttime party. There is evocative use of fog and darkness during and after the party. The actors do a good job as a whole, with only Alida Valli maybe going too far (a difficult role). I would single out the usually reliable Louis Jourdan, here playing a downtrodden man whose love has left him, for the highest acting honors. In addition, I also liked Susan Strasberg as an unloved daughter trying to prove her devotion by taking care of her dying father. Finally, the lovely Antonella Lualdi has the striking face one associates with this kind of upper-class heartache. I only wonder what her character, who could have nearly any man, would see in the jerk she was married to (played by Jean Sorrel).
To sum up, Disorder is no lost masterpiece. It is not a film that I would recommend anyone tracking down or petitioning Criterion to bring out on disk. However, for what it's worth, Disorder did reasonably hold my interest.
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