La Notte (1961)

7 04 2008

The least affecting of Antonioni’s trilogy, but probably the most accessible as well. It plays out somewhat like a series of vignettes, all of course crafted with Antonioni’s usual mastery. But I’d be lying if I said the film felt as “complete” as L’Avventura or L’Eclisse. It’s more than fascinating to watch unfold but doesn’t invoke the deep post-viewing pondering that the rest of the trilogy does. Even though it might always be overshadowed by the other two films, it does provide more than enough memorable sequences to exist on it’s own.

Tension between a married couple comes to the surface when one night, they attend an all-night party. The husband, Giovanni, has recently published a novel and developed a public image as an intellectual. His wife, Lydia, is going through a personal and internal crisis which frustrates her and makes her husband suspicious. At the party the two openly flirt with others, occasionally attempting to factor in their one-time love for one another. At the dawn of day, their efforts seem to become more and more useless.

While certainly providing an insightful look into a crumbling relationship, most of the two-hour running time is supported by many “irrelevant” scenes that come and go quite quickly. These are okay with me, though, because they definitely lend the film a type of deadpan sensibility. It’s also the main reason why one can get away with calling this Antonioni’s most accessible film. Of course, it is most likely slow to an inexperienced audience but not more so than the rest of his work. There also seems to be more convincingly dramatic performances, which sacrifices a lot of nuance heavily located throughout the rest of the trilogy. Of course, this is all in comparison to Antonioni’s standards and considering the fact that he is one of the best (and most influential) directors of all-time. Calling this one of his lesser works, doesn’t really mean much. If one wants to experience more “Antonioni-ness” (or more Vitti-ness) but has already rewatched his other films countless times, this is certainly worth viewing but at the same time, not the greatest representation of his mastery.

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