Starring: Marcello Mastroianni, Anita Ekberg, Anouk Aimée
Director: Federico Fellini
Running Time: 174 mins
La Dolce Vita is an Italian film about a journalist, Marcello Rubini, and a series of episodes from a week of his life conducting the paparazzi in Rome.
This may not be the most thrilling or hilarious film of all time, but it’s really quite intriguing and largely entertaining to watch. Encompassing aspects of social satire and Fellini’s surrealism, this film is full of deep meanings that are fascinating to look into.
The main character, the journalist, is a hugely interesting enigma that you get to see unlock as the film goes on. With a first impression of this man as a wholly more sophisticated character, the film gradually shows you his countless mistresses, his intrusive job, and his overall very decadent lifestyle.
As his character unfolds, and the story goes on, Marcello becomes a hugely difficult character to support. Although you know that at heart he’s a good guy, you can see that his lifestyle is damaging the lives of countless people around him, and so he develops into a sort of anti-hero.
Away from that fascinating main character, the rest of the film is structured in a very strange way. The whole thing is a story that follows the journalist around Rome, however it’s shown in various different episodes, that seem only connected by Marcello’s presence.
It’s not only until the end of the film that all these seemingly unrelated episodes from his life come full circle, making for a finale full of drama, conflicts and more, which is one of the most entertaining parts of the film.
Also, there’s a whole heap of fascinating themes within the story. There’s a commentary on the concept of celebrity culture, and the hounds that are the paparazzi, as well as an interesting look into the differences between men, who seem to be more decadent and unfaithful, and women, who are much more loving and caring, in Italian society of the time.
As for the technical elements of the film, there was, as ever, fantastically weird direction from Federico Fellini, making a real story something often completely surreal, which is emphasised by the fantastic cinematography, with a good blend between a gritty, realistic world and something more idealistic that evokes the feelings of Marcello during this week of turmoil.
The very ending of the film is the only slight disappointment in terms of its entertainment value. At this point, Marcello has grown tired, and he’s seen the negatives of his decadent lifestyle of the past, and although that’s an interesting enough concept, after nearly 3 hours, I really couldn’t help feeling as tired as Marcello on screen, so the finale was just a little dull and difficult to watch.
Overall, though, this gets an 8.0, because of its fascinating story, deep themes, enigmatic central character and classically bizarre directing from Fellini.