Starring: Gabriele Ferzetti, Monica Vitti, Lea Massari
Director: Michelangelo Antonioni
Running Time: 143 mins
L’Avventura is an Italian film about a group of friends who launch a massive search after one of their party goes missing on a small island.
This is one of those films that feels like a daunting task set before you. Its legendary reputation for incredibly slow but measured pacing, complete with a subtly complex story, has made me put off watching this for a while. And now that I’ve finally seen it, I have to say that I can really appreciate so much of what Antonioni is going for, but I can’t say that it’s the greatest film I’ve ever seen.
Let’s start on the bright side, however, with Antonioni’s direction. As fluid and experimental as you can always expect from the director, L’Avventura is a hugely impressive film from a cinematic and artistic point of view. Above all, the way in which Antonioni gives the film a seemingly innocuous outer shell, and yet manages to deliver some real dramatic turmoil beneath the surface, is hugely impressive.
It’s a technique that works very well. Rather than going all out with huge melodrama, the use of slow and controlled pacing, thereby reducing your expectation for intense drama, the emotional turmoil for the characters always seems even stronger. As a result, despite the film moving along in a way that’s not always so simple to follow, it makes for an intriguing and impressively dramatic watch.
What’s more is that Antonioni continues this style when directing his actors. The performances here are all excellent, as they fit in brilliantly with the measured and understated nature of the film, but you can see that, whilst the actors have done a fantastic job, the consistency of all of the performances suggests that Antonioni has played a large part.
Gabriele Ferzetti and Monica Vitti deserve particular praise for their performances. In keeping with the film’s impressively subtle way of building far bigger than expected tension and drama, Ferzetti and Vitti keep themselves to themselves on screen, and yet have a brilliant chemistry that makes the story’s direction all the more interesting.
Alongside Antonioni’s style, Ferzetti and Vitti are the most important part in what makes the film’s story so much more interesting than you’d expect, and through their performances which never give too much away, you don’t always see what’s coming next.
Despite all that, however, I have to say that I personally wasn’t so thriller by L’Avventura. Yes, it’s an interesting story, and Antonioni brings it to life in a unique and impressive way. The performances are also very strong, but there’s something about the incredibly fluid and experimental style that I just didn’t take to.
Innovative and legendary it may be, and most likely deserves to be, my experience of the film wasn’t so mind-blowing, simply because I felt that the film became a little too difficult to follow with full concentration. It’s a challenge, and that’s always great, but for me, this wasn’t the one that rewrites everything I feel about cinema, and that’s why I’m giving L’Avventura a 7.4 overall.