Starring: Alberto Sordi, Franco Fabrizi, Franco Interlenghi
Director: Federico Fellini
Running Time: 104 mins
I Vitelloni is an Italian film about a group of five friends in a small town who find themselves at key turning points in their own lives.
I’m a big fan of Fellini, but I have to say that I didn’t quite take to I Vitelloni like some of his other films. Although its raw atmosphere gives promise for an intriguing and emotional story, I wasn’t so engrossed by the stories of the lives of these men, and, coupled with Fellini’s typically slower pacing, that often made this a tough film to get through.
However, there are still positives to draw from I Vitelloni, one of which is Fellini’s directing. Although I didn’t feel a similar power from the story, if there’s one particularly noteworthy thing about this film, it’s the atmosphere. Similar to earlier neorealist films like Rome, Open City and Bicycle Thieves, this film has a strikingly empty vibe to it, mirroring the confused emotions of the men in the story at this point in their lives.
The other thing that Fellini does well is make this feel both realistic and still dream-like, something that he was always fantastic at. On the one hand, given that this is a semi-autobiographical film, Fellini gives a very clear and honest presentation of the small town lifestyle, and the frustration of young men living there who were maybe looking to do something bigger with their lives.
On the other hand, watching the film gives you a bizarre feeling akin to that of being lost. The main characters are stuck in a confused dilemma at this time in their lives, and you do get that effect coming through in Fellini’s directing.
The big issue that I have with this film is how it goes about telling the story. The umbrella of the narrative is trying to show the way that all these men are feeling in their various similar situations, but rather than give you a more balanced demonstration of the various characters and their stories, the story feels very lop-sided.
I don’t have a problem with focussing more on one character than another, but when the film is trying to give you an insight into multiple characters, and you’re not really getting that to a similar extent for each of them, it makes it hard to be interested in them, and the over-indulgence of the one main story makes that drag a little too.
This is an unmistakably Fellini-esque film, and that can be seen both through the positives and the negatives. It’s a well-directed and clear neorealistic film, but it’s also one whose story and narrative aren’t quite up to the level that its director is, and that’s why I’m giving I Vitelloni a 7.0 overall.