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Personally more appreciate and recognise Michaelangelo Antonioni for his influence in film rather than love him, but still consider him an interesting director and understand completely his appeal. His films are extremely well made and interesting on a thematic level (some like urban alienation being ground-breaking) and his directing style is unique. As has been said more than once though, his style and films are not for all tastes though, for while his films fascinate and transfix many they alienate and perplex others, both sides understandable.
'La Signora Senza Camelie' may not be one of his most best-known or most important films, other films of his may have scenes with slightly more staying power and explore their themes more broadly and deeply. Even though it is an early effort and made when he was still settling his style, 'La Signora Senza Camelie' is unmistakable Antonioni and still is a great film, if not quite extraordinary. Not one of his very best overall, but for me it is among his best of his early films. It is one of his more accessible films, one of the easiest to connect with emotionally for me and it had clearer and more individual character/story development than other films of his. Also he doesn't try to do too much here and he doesn't hammer the points home too hard that it feels heavy-handed.
Visually, 'La Signora Senza Camelie' is very striking. The black and white still looks stunning, the scenery is wonderfully vivid in every frame and the photography often leaves one in awe. A big example being agreed in the rehearsal scene. The music is thankfully the kind that complements rather than clashes and has no trouble fitting with the tone and atmosphere.
The writing didn't come over as rambling to me and instead came over as sincere and thought-provoking. It is in a way a melodrama, but it never really felt too melodramatic or overwrought. Didn't find the storytelling shallow or lacking clarity, the very intriguing themes handled in a way that made impact, both poignant and surprisingly cruel, but not in a way that one feels like they are being preached at. It doesn't come over as incoherent or confused either, or like a disjointed hodge-podge. The characters, particularly the titular character, have dimension and meaning, and much of the storytelling had charm and poignancy, didn't find myself detached here. The ending especially is very moving. The characters thankfully didn't feel like ciphers with some of the strongest female character writing seen in any film by me recently. Again, the male characters aren't as compellingly written but are not too bland.
Antonioni a vast majority of the time drew good and more performances from his casts (with a few exceptions like almost all the cast in 'Beyond the Clouds' and the leads in 'Zabriskie Point'). 'La Signora Senza Camelie' is not an exception, with Lucia Bose giving a quite powerful lead performance and it is a shame that she didn't make it bigger judging from this performance.
On the whole, a great early work by Antonioni and shouldn't be dismissed as a minor one. 9/10
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