Ermano Olmi, the distinguished Italian director, gives us a puzzling work that seems to have been an ambitious project for him, at the time this went into production. There is no doubt about it, in our mind. Unfortunately, the end result is not as interesting as the sum of its ingredients.
Mr. Olmi wanted to paint a wide canvas in which a bourgeois Italian family show no warmth toward each other. There is the matriarch, Laura, a woman of a certain age with full grown children who, by all indications should be leading a great life, but actually, she appears to have none. She comes from a wealthy family. Laura has made herself a lawyer with a nice practice. Her placid existence comes to an abrupt stop when a young motorcyclist suffers an accident almost in front o her. Laura is made to take the youth to the hospital. The incident will change the way she looks at things. Laura becomes obsessed with the young man that was almost killed.
Laura's husband, an executive, only referred as "the engineer", is going through a crisis of his own. The firm in which he has worked for a number of years is suddenly facing a financial revamping. When the new people in charge decide to try a somewhat American approach to business, he begins to doubt whether he will be kept in his position.
Silvia, a beautiful teenager, spends her days from one swimming pool to another. Silvia is coy about her relationship with one boy that wants her. The sexual charge is evident, yet, she is reluctant to commit herself to a permanent liaison. The action takes place during a summer. Silvia's siblings are an enigma.
This is a film not recommend it for squeamish viewers. There is a sequence toward the last part of the film that involves, in graphic detail, the slaughter of cattle. Let the faint hearted be warned. We liked the Laura of Loredana Savelli, but the rest of the cast act as though in a fog. This is not one of Ermano Olmi's best achievements in the cinema.
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