Conversation Piece (1974)

LUCHINO VISCONTI

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB

Original title:  Gruppo di Famiglia in un Interno

Italy/France, 1974, .  Story by , Screenplay by , Enrico Medioli, Luchino Visconti.  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Burt Lancaster is a retired professor and art collector whose quiet idyll is interrupted by the appearance of a pushy aristocrat () who insists on being allowed to rent the room at the top of his manse. Barely able to consent before it happens, Lancaster discovers to his horror that she is moving in her left-leaning lover () and will be constantly annoyed by the sounds of her daughter and the girl’s fiancé but, eventually, it works out to his pleasure: he finds a kinship with Berger and becomes fascinated by the whole lot of them, watching them progress to their doom as they try to separate political ideals from their personal feelings for each other. Moving about as quickly as drying paint, this one has limited appeal for those who aren’t fascinated by Visconti’s glacial adoration of the upper classes. The superb cast and the beautiful imagery (the sets and costumes are divine) make for a visual feast while the resolutions between characters are impressively cerebral. This was the great filmmaker’s first project after a debilitating stroke.

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