1960 romantic mystery

Rating: 18/20

Plot: After a stop at some rocky islands on a delightful yacht trip, some rich people lose one of their rich people. During the ensuing hunt, her boyfriend and her BFF fall for each other.

It's the kind of movie that ruins other movies for you. You watch L'Avventura, and every other movie you watch for a while after that just looks like crap. Michelangelo Antonioni should probably apologize to every other movie because making a movie as hauntingly and exquisitely and devastatingly beautiful as this one was just insensitive. I think any director could find a location like Aeolian Islands, the gorgeous aforementioned rocky islands with all those crags. It's the kind of place where you can set up a camera and swoop it around a little bit and automatically have a sense of mystery. And any director can find architecture in Rome and Sicily that's going to look great on the screen. Heck, I'm not even a director, and I could probably capture a few things worth looking at in these locations. But Antonioni, as evident from what you see here, has the kind of gifted eyeballs that can make astounding beautiful places look even more astounding, and there are barely any frames in this movie that aren't worthy of hanging on your wall. Just gorgeous stuff.

The actresses are easy on the eyes, too. Lea Massari, for the limited time she's in this thing, intrigues. I'm not even sure she's conventionally attractive, but there's this allure and mystery, and I couldn't keep my eyes off her. It definitely made me look closely at all those rocks to try to find her along with the other characters. Later, I couldn't keep my eyes off Monica Vitti's hair. It was almost a character and should have been in the credits as Claudia's Hair played by Monica Vitti's hair. Gabriele Ferzetti's character was a lot more predictable, probably because he was playing a man and men are just more predictable.

The mystery of what happens to Anna isn't nearly as important as the mystery with the romance. Romantic mysteries are oftentimes more difficult to solve than missing person cases, and as this unfolds, you can't help shifting your focus from Anna's whereabouts to why Sandro and Claudia have become fuck buddies. And that, I think, is part of the brilliance of this movie. It introduces an intriguing character, takes her away from you, leads you to believe that the "adventure" (I assume that's what that wacky two-V word means) is going to be a mystery, and then takes you down this beguiling romantic path instead. In a way, the whole movie is probably about being lost or trying to find something. All of the characters--not just the ones at the forefront--are sort of drifting. Sandro and Claudia are looking for something, and it's not always clear whether or not it's even their friend.

How about that final shot, by the way? You really feel like these characters could go anywhere after that moment where a hand is placed on a head. At the same time, you feel you know exactly where those characters are going to go. Stunning!

1 comment:

cory said...

This made it onto lots of all-time movie lists, so I probably set myself up to be disappointed. The locations and cinematography were great, but the plot seemed slow, hard to decipher, and unimportant. The film was stylish, but kind of full of itself, and only memorable as interesting moments rather than as a complete experience. I saw this only six or seven years ago, but have forgotten most of it. A 13.