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A virtually plotless, gaudy, impressionistic portrait of Rome through the eyes of one of its most famous citizens. blending autobiography (a reconstruction of Fellini's own arrival in Rome during the Mussolini years; a trip to a brothel and a music-hall) with scenes from present-day Roman life (a massive traffic jam on the autostrada; a raucous journey through Rome after dark; following an archaeological team through the site of the Rome subways; an unforgettable ecclesiastical fashion show) Written by
Michael Brooke <email@example.com>
Peter Gonzales Falcon's hairstyles are all in the longish 1972 mode, even though the portions of the film in which he appears are supposed to be taking place thirty or more years earlier, at which time men's hair was cut much, much shorter, and would never be worn as it appears in this film. See more »
At the opening credits of "Roma", we are informed by our narrator and director Federico Fellini that this is not a normal film in the traditional storytelling sense, but more a perception of Rome, the way Fellini sees it. Sounds interesting? Well, it is, in that one must be so in love with their city to want to show it to the world through a series of small stories and shots of random happenings. I can relate: I have the same love for Melbourne.
We shift from a portrayal of Fellini as a schoolboy with dreams of going to Rome, to a depiction of Fellini as a young man, moving to the city he always wanted to live at. There's also scenes of early 1970s theatre attendance, the almost ritual-like eating habits of the Romans, and then we move onto a documentary-like part of the film where we get to see Fellini's camera crew struggle as they try to capture the hustle and bustle of the entrance into Rome via a major highway, filled with drifters, animals, trucks, hitch-hikers, bikes, and more.
The constant changing in scenes and stories is a bit messy, and could possibly confuse those not understanding what Fellini is trying to do with the film. At some times, I found myself questioning whether what we were being shown was a realistic dramatization of Fellini's past experiences, or some kind of farcical take on Roman culture (see the religious clothing fashion show scene!). The film is quite intriguing, taking in the sexual revolution of the era and putting it up against a city full of tradition. We are also exposed to some of the city's dirty little secrets, such as the surprising popularity of their whorehouses.
It can't be denied that there is something endearing to "Roma" that allows Fellini to get away with a film that doesn't really give you much to take home with you, other than an idea of what Rome was like for someone in 1972, and what kind of life was lead to come to those perceptions. It is somewhat self indulgent, but Fellini does put across the impression that he has something to show you, something he'd like to share with you, because he has loved it for so long, and it still fascinates him on a daily basis.
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