Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.
Original title: La Citta Delle Donne
Italy/France, 1980. Opera Film Produzione, Gaumont. Story and Screenplay by Federico Fellini, Bernardino Zapponi, screenplay collaborator Brunello Rondi. Cinematography by Giuseppe Rotunno. Produced by Franco Rossellini, Renzo Rossellini, Daniel Toscan du Plantier. Music by Luis Bacalov. Production Design by Dante Ferretti. Costume Design by Gabriella Pescucci. Film Editing by Ruggero Mastroianni.
Tiresome, overbearing mess by Federico Fellini that attemps to address the growing political issue of feminism in Italy, but ends up being a thinly veiled exploration of Fellini’s own feelings about women. That’s not a bad thing, necessarily, except that Fellini’s feelings about women have been spelled out pretty clearly in every film he has made up until this point so to focus on the subject on its own doesn’t make for compelling viewing. Marcello Mastroianni plays a businessman who is turned on by a beautiful woman on a train and ends up following her to a hotel in the middle of nowhere. The hotel is the host of a women’s rights conference that is most unwelcoming of his presence, providing endless scenes of actresses shouting and yelling, captured by Fellini’s constantly moving camera, which are all just pale reminiscences of scenes in his previous films. Mastroianni is inspired to go into his fantasies and remember his own ideas about the women in his life while being confronted by the reality of his ignored wife (Anna Prucnal), a character type that has dominated Fellini’s films since 8 1/2. Some critics found City of Women anti-feminist upon its original release, but it seems to me that Fellini’s presentation isn’t so much offensive as it is completely removed from any recognizable reality, so that it really only indulges in his own private whims. It’s also extremely long, the characters are flat and, surprisingly for a Fellini film, the photography and set design are unattractive.