Starring: Marcello Mastroianni, Jeanne Moreau, Monica Vitti
Director: Michelangelo Antonini
Running Time: 122 mins
La Notte is an Italian film about a married couple whose relationship goes from bad to worse over the course of one day, where they attend various parties and meet up with friends whose presence puts a strain on their marriage.
Despite this being a pretty well-directed and well-acted film, featuring all the hallmarks of a classic 60s Italian drama, this is just too slow to be properly interesting. The entire story never really seems to get a move on, and although you do get some heightened drama towards the final stages, it’s not particularly captivating given how exhausting the previous part of the film was.
However, let’s start on the positive side of things, with the performances by Marcello Mastroianni and Jeanne Moreau. In this film, there are a lot of silences, and a whole lot less dialogue than your average romantic drama, so that pushes Mastroianni and Moreau to act in a completely different way throughout.
A lot of the time, you’re relying on their characters’ facial expressions and demeanour to give you the facts about what they’re feeling, and with such little dialogue, it can be hard to really get to understand them. However, thanks to the fact that the duo’s performances are so good, it’s a whole lot easier and more captivating.
Secondly, the directing by Michelangelo Antonini is also pretty impressive here. He directs the silent sequences with ease, showing off how well he can work a camera to give meaning to a scene in addition to the actors on screen, through use of different camera angles, lighting and other such tricks that work brilliantly. So, this film is at least visually interesting as well as well-acted.
Despite all that, however, the story here just doesn’t work as well as it should have done. The plot follows the married couple over the day when their marriage completely falls apart, but it never seems to advance dramatically as you’d expect. From start to finish, therefore, it seems like the two are always arguing and wanting to separate, making for very little interesting character development as the story appears to be stuck in perpetual motion.
And then, when we get to the final act at a house party, it fails again to deliver the intrigue and drama that it could have. At this point of the story, there is a little bit of change in the characters, and it gives the opportunity for some more drama, but due to the fact that the pacing then almost slows to a standstill, in similar fashion to the exhausting final sequence of La Dolce Vita, it’s really difficult to be properly captivated and interested by what’s going on on screen, robbing you of what could have been a compelling finale, and that’s why La Notte gets a 6.8 from me.