Thursday, July 19, 2007

La dolce vita

La dolce vita; drama, Italy / France, 1960; D: Federico Fellini, S: Marcello Mastroianni, Anouk Aimée, Anita Ekberg, Yvonne Furneaux, Magali Noël

Rome. Journalist Marcello is flying with his helicopter and spying at a party. Back in his apartment, he finds his mistress Emma in coma due to pills overdose, barely managing to save her from suicide by bringing her to the hospital. But he doesn't have time for mourning, continuing with his car to a local airport to get to the blond star Sylvia and drive her to parties, but in the end he gets beaten by her husband. Marcello arrives to a place where some girl saw Virgin Mary, but a little kid dies from the mass of journalists. Madalena asks Marcello to marry her, so he breaks up with Emma. After a party he finds a dead fish at the shore.

Federico Fellini made his famous drama "La dolce vita" as a farewell to his Italian neoralism phase, and as a welcome sign to his second, pretentiouss, surreal phase. This episodic film without a tight structure is constructed as a bitter critique of the shallow society of the rich and famous—especially dark are the scenes where people can't even move from the mass of journalists, where one character calls one of them by the insulting term "Paparazzo" that even became a official word in the dictionary in real life, or the scenes where the hero rushes from one empty sensation/celebrity to another because none of them has anything to say—but a lot of his little supporting characters are unnecessary, useless and superficially handled. The movie was nominated for an Oscar for best screenplay, director, art direction, while it won the award for best costume design, which is a lot for a overhyped film with only half-hearted critique that offers no alternative. Some sequences are excellent: for instance, the opening shot of a helicopter carrying a statue of Jesus hanging from a rope, a man who protects his head with the newspaper from the photographers or the echo of a kiss heard in the church—but the story simply doesn't have the energy for its overlong 170 minutes of running time, turning into a really annoying hassle towards the end, while the main hero, although played very well by Marcello Mastroianni, isn't quirky or interesting enough. Still, this art-film, a parable of futility, advanced into a classic.


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