The movie director Niccolo has just been left by his wife. This gives him the idea of making a movie about women's relationships. He starts to search for a woman who can play the leading ...
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Anna Maria Ferrero,
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The movie director Niccolo has just been left by his wife. This gives him the idea of making a movie about women's relationships. He starts to search for a woman who can play the leading part in the movie - but also in his own life... Written by
IDENTIFICATION OF A WOMAN (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1982) **1/2
Antonioni’s last film prior to his suffering a stroke is this very typical effort (co-written with Gerard Brach and Tonino Guerra), dealing with a number of key themes that run through his work – lack of communication, the mystery-as-journey-of-self-discovery, etc. That said, the film wasn’t picked up for U.S. release until 1996 and is subsequently perhaps the least-seen of Antonioni’s films from his post-AVVENTURA phase!
Anyway, the mystery element links the film with the director’s earlier BLOW UP (1966) and THE PASSENGER (1975); still, it’s never as intriguing here as in those more celebrated titles (especially since, for once, it’s explained away at the end!)…but, as I said, the film eventually emerges to be more about the mid-life crisis of its central character (despite the title). Interestingly, he’s a film director – though “Euro-Cult” favorite Tomas Milian feels as incongruous to Antonioni’s cinema as Marcello Mastroianni’s presence had been in LA NOTTE (1961)! He has an obsessive relationship with a young woman (even enjoying some LAST TANGO IN Paris -type sex scenes!) who eventually leaves him and disappears (shades also of L’AVVENTURA ); while searching for her, he meets a variety of other willing girls (among them Antonioni’s own future wife Enrica Fico). Marcel Bozzuffi appears in one brief, irrelevant scene as Milian’s brother.
Overall, the film is tiresomely long and often mirrors the tedium experienced by the characters; the ending, however, is a beauty – suggesting that, even if he’s a failure at love, a film director is still left with his imagination. Carlo Di Palma’s cinematography is notable, too – particularly at the Venice location (where, coincidentally, I saw the Antonionis three years ago!) and during the tense fog-bound sequence; the film’s score, then, is a mix of electronic, ambient and pop – and all very much of its period. As was the case with THE PASSENGER, THE MYSTERY OF OBERWALD (which is now one of only two features by the director I’ve yet to catch up with!) and BEYOND THE CLOUDS (1995), Antonioni had a hand in the editing of the film; here, he receives sole credit for this and the result makes especially effective use of ellipses (the factors of time and space had always been a primary concern in his work – thus making the apparently mocking recourse to science-fiction at the end anything but coincidental!).
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