Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. Italy/Spain/France, 1975. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Compagnia Cinematografica Champion, Les Films Concordia, CIPI Cinematografica S.A.. Story by Mark Peploe, Screenplay by Mark Peploe, Peter Wollen, Michelangelo Antonioni. Cinematography by Luciano Tovoli. Produced by Carlo Ponti. Music by Ivan Vandor. Production Design by Piero Poletto. Costume Design by Louise Stjernsward. Film Editing by Michelangelo Antonioni, Franco Arcalli. Cannes Film Festival 1975.
Jack Nicholson is a journalist traveling through North Africa who meets a businessman with the same first name and a similar look. When his new friend suddenly dies, Nicholson switches their identities and allows the world to think it is he who has expired, free now to travel across the continent and through to Spain. The deceased was actually an arms dealer, which puts our hero into some pretty interesting situations with a bunch of contacts, while meeting a young woman (Maria Schneider) gives him a travel companion and his wife (Jenny Runacre) is at home searching for answers. All the perfect pictorial compositions you associate with the artful brilliance of Michelangelo Antonioni is here to be enjoyed, while a stronger emphasis on a narrative that is easy to follow is a surprising change of pace in this gorgeous film. The mysterious lack of resolution that marks a film like L’Avventura is given the opposite treatment here, but this doesn’t dampen the enigmatic qualities of the landscapes that are explored, nor does it prevent Nicholson from giving one of his confidently alluring performances.