Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Fallen Out of Love

La Notte (1961) - Antonioni
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La Notte is perhaps the most heartbreaking film ever made about falling out of love. In a matter of two days and one night, the unhappy bourgeois intellectual couple in Milan, Giovanni (Marcello Mastroianni) and Lidia (Jeanne Moreau) slowly hurtles toward the inevitable.

It starts in the hospital room, where the couple's friend who is suffering from terminal illness. All pleasantries but they all know the case is hopeless for the patient. Lidia makes an excuse to run out the door. It sets the tone going forward, as they contemplate their strained relationship. In the hospital, Giovanni is attacked by a nympho girl and feeling guilty that he was tempted, he tells Lidia about it later on. Antonioni demonstrates the couple's sexual frustrations as Lidia watches young men shooting rockets in the field and as she stumbles on a group of shirtless young men fist-fighting.

Giovanni is celebrating his new book, Sleepwalkers, being published. In series of conversations, we find out that it's Lidia's family's wealth they are living off of and he has no qualms about not having another book published in the future. Then they meet Valentina (Monica Vitti), a 22 year old daughter of a industrialist whose dinner party the couple half-heartedly attends. It was Lidia's passive-agressive suggestion for Gio to talk to her since Val is seen away from the party reading his book. And surely enough Gio is smitten by a young, smart woman.

Both Gio and Lidia have chance to have an affair that stormy night. Lidia rejects the offer out of what, and Gio and Lidia are both rejected by Val, who stands for object of desire and the new generation rejecting the old. La Notte might not be the most cinematic films in Antonioni's oeuvre. But with older, knowing protagonists, it is a lot more impactful and sadder than L'eclisse. The last scene, as the unhappy couple trying to have sex in the field is perhaps the saddest movie ending ever. I think I am beginning to appreciate Michelangelo Antonioni's artistry more now that I'm older.