A Matter of Time (1976)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): B.

Italy, 1976.  , , .  Screenplay by , based on the novel by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , .  Music by .  Production Design by , .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Vincente Minnelli’s inspiring career sadly ended with this very weak film, the only time he ever directed his recently Oscar-winning daughter  in a major role.  The framing narrative presents her as a famous actress and singer who is ruminating on the experiences that brought her to her present success.  We flash back to her working as a chambermaid in a Rome hotel where her interactions with a formerly notorious countess () teach her everything she needs to know about life (which in the case of a deposed aristocrat selling her jewels to survive in a crummy hotel is mostly lessons in how to sell your body to get ahead in show biz).  The idea is probably to make something worthy of Colettem, as exemplified by the fin-de-siecle overtones in the production design and, surprisingly for Minnelli, ugly cinematography, but the story is lifeless and Liza is the only cast member who seems to know what she’s doing.  Bergman is trying to have fun but is unsure if she should be a playing real tragedy or, thanks to constantly being in a turban, a caricature, the kind of role that Valentina Cortese should have portrayed.  makes her film debut in the conclusion at her real-life mother’s bedside.

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