At Zabriskie Point, United States' lowest point, two perfect strangers meet; an undergraduate dreamer and a young hippie student who start off an unrestrained romance, making love on the dusty terrain.
In Milan, after visiting dear friend Tommaso Garani that is terminal in a hospital, the writer Giovanni Pontano goes to a party for the release of his last book, and his wife Lidia Pontano visits the place where she lived many years ago. In the night, they go to a night-club, and later to a party in the mansion of the tycoon Mr. Gherardini. Along the night, Giovanni flirts with Valentina Gherardini, the daughter of the host, and then he receives a proposal to work for him in the area of communication and write the history of his company. Meanwhile, Lidia flirts with the playboy Roberto.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Many nights led to this night, nights of time, nights of fear, nights of love, nights of loneliness, nights of pursuit and conquest, nights without privacy, and this night - a night of truth. See more »
Loving to depict bourgeois alienation, Antonioni shows here a couple's marriage breaking down, with Monica Vitti as a delightful foil
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni shot a series of films exploring the psychological torment of his bourgeois protagonists. In spite of the wealth and security they established, they had no idea what they wanted in life or what they were supposed to do. In spite of busy social lives, they found it impossible to truly connect with other people. LA NOTTE, from 1961, is one of these, and I think it's the very best of them.
As the film opens, one morning in Milano, married couple Giovanni (Marcello Mastroianni) and Lidia (Jeanne Moreau) visit their friend Tomasso (Bernhard Wicki) in the hospital as he lays dying. Lidia is clearly shaken by the experience and, after Giovanni leaves for an appearance to promote his new book, the camera tracks Lidia through a long, aimless walk around Milano as she processes her thoughts. Here Antonioni (anticipating his later film Il Deserto Rosso) shows the drastically changing face of Milano in the postwar construction boom, and the appearance of new tech gadgetry in everyday life, as just one more way people can feel they have nothing certain they can hold on to in this world.
Giovanni and Lidia, while never outright squabbling, have clearly grown cold towards each other. Gradually one begins to wonder if there is any life left in their marriage whatsoever. Things come to a head, however, when Giovanni and Lidia go that evening to a party at a rich industrialist's villa, and Antonioni's favourite actress Monica Vitti appears. Vitti's role as a foil to Giovanni and Lidia is powerful and moving, but I think its precise nature should be left unsaid here, as it's better audiences aren't spoiled first.
A mere description of the plot might seem like nothing happens in this film besides bored people talking and yet another mid-century European cinematic tale of adultery. But LA NOTTE is a film of incredible visual poetry, almost like the work of Andrei Tarkovsky. Even scenes that evoke the characters' boredom are shot as such beautiful tableaux that the viewer is enraptured. Antonioni often shoots his characters reflected in mirrors and the like, and there is some cinematic legerdemain here that just makes you go "wow".
Appearing in Antonioni's body of work between two similar films that are often considered a trilogy, LA NOTTE has often got less buzz than its predecessor L'AVVENTURA, with its daring plot twist, or its successor L'ECLISSE with its chic Monica Vitti-Alain Delon love affair. But I think that in terms of the picture-perfect visuals and elegant pacing, LA NOTTE deserves every bit as much praise as those other two classic films.
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