Michelangelo Antonioni directs Monica Vitti, Alain Delon and Francisco Rabal in this arthouse classic where an Italian beauty considers a new lover during a stock market crash.
Stunning but obtuse. Given to a vibe where nothing seems to happen but urban alienation or misanthropic beauty. It would be fair to say the tentative, bitter courtship that plays out between Vitti and Delon is sold as a poor investment for our energies. As always, the downside of taking a languid look at ennui is it can be boring. Sure, this allows Antonioni to create blanks. Voids so the viewer can fill in their own importance and meanings into the dead space. Look and mood over plot and interaction. There are sequences that are powerful. The chaos of the overcrowded stock exchange is overwhelming and fused with foolish purpose. They make for dynamic juxtaposition with all the lulling around deserted streets and sulking with outdated compatriots. Antonioni creates a world past its sell by date… a 1962 alternating between dying in its sleep or thrashing out its last gasps. The trickling pace allows us to link scenes with others. The break-up we open with in the modernist apartment feels like the exact negative reel of the sequence where Vitti visits Delon’s old world family home. The art and decor might be from different eras but the frustrated dance that happens is step-for-step in reverse. What point is there to go in if everything has already played out? Natalie (as always far smarter and perceptive that I) pointed out the film’s protagonist sees so little variation or hope in the future that she is essentially gives up in engaging with the present. Romances aren’t worth consummating, rendezvous aren’t worth making. The market has crashed there’s nothing left to anticipate. No destiny has value. This maybe explains the paranoid, doom-laden final montage. The sexy young movie stars abruptly leave the stage. We see the sun set in a series of eerie and disconcerting shots. The streets we have toured, grow deserted. The city becomes a ghost town. Maybe an apocalypse has quietly happened. Nothing is resolved.
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