Thursday, April 7, 2011

374. La Notte/The Night (1961)

Running Time: 115 minutes
Directed By: Michelangelo Antonioni
Written By: Michelangelo Antonioni, Ennio Flaiano, Tonino Guerra
Main Cast: Marcello Mastroianni, Jeanne Moreau, Monica Vitti, Bernhard Wicki

ANTONIONI WEEK: CHAPTER TWO

For those of you that care, this is the 300th post of the "1001 Movies I (Apparently) Must See Before I Die" blog. When I first started this blog, back in September 2009, I really wasn't sure if it would last more than a handful of posts and now I'm positive that I'm going to see this project through to the very end. Anyway, on to the business at hand..."La Notte".

This is the second film in Antonioni's loosely based trilogy of alienation and it stars Marcello Mastroianni as Giovanni. Giovanni is a writer and is married to Lidia (Moreau). The film begins with the couple going to visit an ailing friend in the hospital. Upon their departure, Giovanni returns home, while Lidia wanders the streets of Milan. Eventually the couple find each other again at home, and Lidia makes it known that she's tired of staying in all the time. Giovanni suggests they go to a party that is taking place on that night, and Lidia agrees. Once in the car, however, Lidia decides she'd rather spend some time with Giovanni alone and they go to a small cafe, where they watch some expressionist artists act out some hypnotic movements. Lidia tries her best to strike conversation with her husband, but he seems disinterested and ultimately the two decide to attend the party. At the party, the two split up rather quickly and find themselves taken by others - Giovanni is entranced by Valentina (Vitti), while Lidia tries her best to ward off a mystery man that won't stop eying her.

POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT!

Without a doubt, I liked "La Notte" better than "L'Avventura", but I'm still not sold on the supposed greatness of Michelangelo Antonioni. My liking for "La Notte" seemed to come in small doses and there was a big chunk in the middle where the film really got slow and stale. I REALLY enjoyed the scene where Giovanni is seduced by an apparent mental patient, as he departs the hospital at the beginning of the film and this is possibly the best scene in the film. There are other key scenes that really seemed to suck me in and totally allow me to get lost in the film. The black male and female at the cafe where Giovanni and Lidia go, are absolutely hypnotic, as they sway around the middle of the floor to some sweet jazz accompaniment. I liked the ending too and how it was left open to interpretation...I'll get to my interpretations in a moment.

However, other than those particular scenes and maybe a few others, there was a lot of, what seemed like, wasted time. In my opinion, Antonioni and his collaborators on the film should've picked a location for the film and set the entire movie there. The better part of an hour is taken up when Giovanni and Lidia attend the party and the film doesn't end until they leave the party. It seems like the entire film is set in two or three locations and in the end, it just doesn't seem very balanced. Also I had a real problem with the dialogue. It just didn't seem very real and the conversations were full of intellect that just didn't seem to portray how people really carry themselves in conversation. In fact, the only scenes that seemed to really portray how people really talk was the entire scene in the hospital and the ending and the exchange between Giovanni and Lidia - the rest just seemed like a bunch of trumped up mumbo jumbo.

On the other hand (the hand that liked this film), I think the whole loneliness and alienation angle really came through more clearly in this one, as opposed to "L'Avventura". I also felt that the characters were more defined and that they really seemed to be shallow characters that didn't embrace the thought of feeling any emotions. It's not until the end that they really expose their souls and show that they are actually human. After writing that last line, I'm starting to think that all of that intellectual "mumbo jumbo" talk was intentional and maybe in the end, we're meant to really see this couple for who they really are.

In the end, Giovanni begs Lidia to continue loving him and Lidia pleads with Giovanni to tell her that "he doesn't love her". He pins her against the ground and the film pans away as Giovanni tries relentlessly to make-up with Lidia. It seems to me that, not until Lidia tells Giovanni that they are through as a married couple, does he truly realize the damage he's done to her and the pain he's really caused her. In my view, Giovanni truly regrets his actions in the end and it's my hope that Lidia sees this and ultimately takes him back.

RATING:
5.5/10 It was better than "L'Avventura", but still, I can only put it just above the average marker. Here's hoping "L'Eclisse is even better.

MOVIES WATCHED:
246
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH:
755

April 6, 2011 11:05pm

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