Monday February 8, 2010 17:11

Movie #0011 – L’Avventura (1960)

Posted by Michael

Directed by: Michelangelo Antonioni
Starring: Gabriele Ferzetti, Monica Vitti, Lea Massari
Second Viewing

Synopsis: A girl goes missing while on a boating trip with her friends; her boyfriend and lover search for her, falling in love in the process.

I have somewhat of a love/hate relationship with Michelangelo Antonioni. On one hand, the man was an impeccable director and made films that are almost always beautiful to look at. On the other hand, entertainment value was clearly not paramount among his filmmaking goals, and pretty much all of his films can be tough to sit through at times (to put it charitably). So despite the fact that I’ve never quite been entertained by an Antonioni film, I keep seeking them out. I guess he was just such a master filmmaker that it’s easy to find something to appreciate in his films, even when you’re essentially bored to tears.

I actually wound up watching this film over three days — I rarely, if ever, interrupt a film once I start watching it, but… well, I started watching the film, got about an hour into it and then thought “you know what, I’m going to take a quick break just to check my email.” I couldn’t bring myself to finish it that night. I think the fact that I had already seen it kind of lessened the urgency to finish it immediately. So the next day I hunkered down, and told myself that I was going to watch the rest of the movie break-free. After about forty minutes I fell asleep. I woke up a couple of hours later in a daze, and found that I had at least had the foresight to pause the movie before my snooze, though my memory of actually doing so was hazy at best. I was pretty sleepy at that point, and there was no way I was going to be able to sit through another forty minutes of Antonioni in that state, so I put it off for the next day. The next day I finally finished it.

I think it probably goes without saying at this point that L’Avventura does not make Speed look like a slow ride to grandma’s house. I’d probably even go so far as to describe it as boring, though I think that word is a bit too derogatory since I would ultimately recommend this film — to certain people at least. If you consider yourself to be serious about cinema at all, then you need to see this film. But if you’re the type of person who goes to the movies once or twice a year and occasionally heads to Blockbuster to rent a movie or two — yeah, you can easily go the rest of your life without watching this movie. It’s absolutely beautifully made with stunning black and white cinematography, and it is kind of compelling in its own strange way, but it isn’t entertaining in the traditional sense at all. Not even a little bit.

It’s kind of odd, because my general philosophy on cinema is that, no matter what a director is trying to say or how noble his intentions are, a film’s first purpose should be to entertain — it doesn’t matter how insightful, artfully-crafted, etc. a movie is, if it isn’t entertaining then it is almost invariably a failure. And there is no doubt that Antonioni wasn’t concerned at all with making his films enjoyable in a traditional sense. And yet I do consider myself a fan of his, and would recommend his films (though, as I mentioned before, not to everyone). It’s odd. I think watching an Antonioni film is kind of like being forced to eat vegetables as a kid — you’re not necessarily going to enjoy it, but you will be enriched by it.

Buy the movie at Amazon

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