MICHELANGELO ANTONIONI, FEDERICO FELLINI, ALBERTO LATTUADA, CARLO LIZZANI, FRANCESCO MASELLI, DINO RISI, CESARE ZAVATTINI
Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
Original title: L’Amore In Citta
Italy, 1953. Faro Film. Screenplay by Michelangelo Antonioni, Aldo Buzzi, Luigi Chiarini, Federico Fellini, Marco Ferreri, Alberto Lattuada, Luigi Malerba, Tullio Pinelli, Dino Risi, Vittorio Veltroni, Cesare Zavattini. Cinematography by Gianni Di Venanzo. Produced by Marco Ferreri, Riccardo Ghione. Music by Mario Nascimbene. Production Design by Gianni Polidori. Film Editing by Eraldo Da Roma.
Six short films are united under the single theme of love in Rome, but looking to counteract the image being perpetuated by giant Hollywood blockbusters being filmed there at the time, the filmmakers want to give you their neorealist take on the Eternal City. Ironically, what purports to be stories of love is a jaded look at post-war Italy, in which most of the women who appear in the documentary-like segments have been jilted, abandoned or worse by the men in their lives and, in many cases, have taken to prostitution to survive and/or attempted suicide. The fictional shorts are not that much more positive, Fellini’s genuinely sweet featurette a poignant tale of an ill man using a marital agency to find a wife to share his life and eventually inherit his generous estate. The great Italian maestro puts in his best effort to make something as cynical as Antonioni’s fact-based look at suicide in the city (its subjects motivated mainly by love, money or both) but eventually Fellini’s tenderness for the most vulnerable among us provides for a bittersweet conclusion. Dino Risi contributes the most delightful tale, watching couples ecstatically enjoy three hours in a dance hall (even though fights eventually break up over a girl). It’s one slam dunk after the other as all entries are equally strong contributions, but don’t be surprised if the overall feeling it leaves you with is a lot darker than you expected. Impressively, however, the controlled circumstances surrounding the non-professionals (they’re generally scripted even though they are telling their own stories) is so much less intrusive and disrespectful than a similar news report would be today, even when interviewing a woman who has been labeled too old for the world’s greatest profession and facing the lack of possibilities of how to survive the coming years; the narrator manages to treat her like a person and not a commodity for the curious.