Prior to leaving by train for Paris, a married American woman tries to break off her affair with a young Italian in Rome's Stazione Termini.Prior to leaving by train for Paris, a married American woman tries to break off her affair with a young Italian in Rome's Stazione Termini.Prior to leaving by train for Paris, a married American woman tries to break off her affair with a young Italian in Rome's Stazione Termini.
This is such a contained, focused film, and demands so much of its two actors, every little nuance matters in a kind of exciting dramatic way. The closest thing this compares to, as two lovers or would be lovers talk in a train station, is Brief Encounter (1945), and that's a masterpiece of acting and cinema both.
Here, with Montgomery Clift and Jennifer Jones, it comes close. I found the slowness of it magical, and the filming, in the ultra modern station, very beautiful. If director Vittoria De Sica clearly has a different style than David Lean (though both pile on the romanticism), the effect is still one of longing and loneliness. The weakness here, most of all, is simply the writing, which is so important when two people are sitting around in conversation most of the time.
Oddly, and sadly, it was the producer (Selznick) who got in the way. He was married to Jones at the time, and she was unhappy both during the filming and in her marriage. She also seems to be overacting sometimes--she can be marvelous, and nuance magnified might be exactly what was needed, but it often seems distracting. Clift, for his part, liked De Sica and he did what he could with what he had to work with under the director. It was Selznick who interfered with De Sica, and who altered the script using a series of screenwriters, and even though Truman Capote was one of them, the whole thing was hampered.
The fact it is still a marvelous film is something to wonder at. Flawed, yes, but short and intense and it has a special feeling that Hollywood (and British counterparts) were unable to pull off. The whole atmosphere and mood are enough alone to make it worthwhile.
I saw the short version, and I think it's probably plenty, but if you find the original, with 20 minutes extra, and you like this one, give it a try.
- Aug 4, 2010