Movie Information

L'Avventura, part of a series of Classic Cinema From Around the World, will be presented at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14, at Courtyard Gallery, 9 Walnut St. in downtown Asheville. Info: 273-3332.
Genre: Drama
Director: Michelangelo Antonioni
Starring: Gabriele Ferzetti, Monica Vitti, Lea Massari, Dominique Blanchar
Rated: NR

The four-star rating I’ve afforded Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’Avventura (1960) is born of a desire to approach the film as objectively as possible. Objectively, this is an important film—maybe even close to a great film. There’s a mastery in its physical being that goes beyond considerations of drama. The rich, detailed, deep-focus black-and-white images that make up the film are so striking that they alone make the movie worth the price of a ticket. I understand, too, the fuss that greeted this movie in 1960. Its fresh depiction of upper-class Italian angst resonated with viewers (as if it were a toffee-nosed response to the more honestly earthy Fellini film, La Dolce Vita, from the same time frame). The film’s daring choice to present a mystery that has no solution—the disappearance of a socially prominent young woman (Lea Massari) going through a bout of cosmic malaise on a deserted island during a posh boating trip—was just arty enough to capture the imagination. The cleverly presented suggestion that she may have left the island on a boat is something that neither the characters nor the viewer can be certain of.

However, from a completely subjective point of view, the movie—like most Antonioni—never engaged my emotions and frequently bored me—reinforcing why the passing of Antonioni the same week as Ingmar Bergman made scarcely a ripple in my mind. Still, I can’t deny the quality of the film, and I’d never suggest it shouldn’t be seen. Antonioni is the last word in profundity for some folks—and whether he is for you is a decision you need to make for yourself.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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