La Dolce Vita (1960)
Reviewed on 2007 March 7
This is not a movie to watch if you’ve spent a day struggling with your job. To be blunt, if you’re already in a mood, you’re just going to say “Dude, where’s my plot?” and hate the rich freaks that have all the time and money to move from party to party, then complain they’re bored. Otherwise, it’s a great Sunday afternoon movie, and if you don’t like surrealism it’s not as hallucinatory as some of Fellini’s other work. (Surrealism usually isn’t my thing either, but my favorite Fellini so far is still the trippy Juliet of the Spirits.)
Marcello Rubini (Marcello Mastroianni) is a writer that seems to do little writing and more socializing. He moves from party to party and woman to woman, and seems to collect ladies the way ladies collect shoes. The two main ones in his life are Maddalena (Anouk Aimee) and Emma (Yvonne Furneaux). Emma is not only the most beautiful woman in the film (in my opinion) but she also seems like she’d be the easiest one to settle down with.
Marcello doesn’t want to settle down. He’s having too much fun, especially when he’s sent to cover the ballyhooed film star Sylvia (Anita Ekberg). Little has changed, people fawned over starlets then as they do today, and in one great bit you can see Sylvia looking at an admirer and wondering what he’s going on about. Sylvia likes a party; in fact Sylvia is a party. (By today’s yardstick she acts kind of like a good-natured five-year-old that ate too much sugar, but it works here.) She reminds me of the the kind of woman that would steal your husband, then write you an apology with lots of hearts over the “i”s and smiley faces and be honestly baffled if you wouldn’t go out and play with her the next day. She’s still tame compared to the other people Marcello encounters later in the movie, and he realizes that this crowd of socialites is pretty empty, despite their illusion of depth. The question is, is he going to be able to resist the “fabulous” parties and hedonism to accomplish something more substantial in his life?
Like I said, don’t watch this if you’re feeling crabby, or you’re just going to get annoyed with the empty-headed socialites. Otherwise this is a vivid movie, in sleek black-and-white, and the images stay with you. It’s also notable for the character of Paparazzo, who’s name gave us the term paparazzi. And I have to admit that I’d love some of the glamorous outfits these women wore. Maybe it was just the era, but they could pile their hair on their heads, put on dark glasses and a black sheath dress, and go. The deluxe edition I watched is subtitled in nice, easy-to-read yellow.
Three chocolate morsels, and espresso served in one of those prissy china demitasse cups.
P.S. Maybe I’m just warped, but did anybody else think it would be kind of entertaining to see Nico step into the Octagon with that nasty woman with the dogs?