La luna Screen 5 articles

La luna

1979

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  • If La Luna remains a minor film in Bertolucci’s career, finally, it’s because the project as essayed seems somehow misconceived. For all the fascinating elements and moments of marvellous humanity throughout, it never gains shape or compulsive force . . . His expansive, experimental approach to realising this tale, which could too easily turn either sentimental or repulsive, is brave, but the concussive hysteria inherent in the central plot conceit is only occasionally realised.

  • Luna, decidedly shocking, lurid, and unsavory as it can be, is not so easily dismissed as “monstrous, cheap, vulgar rubbish,” as a horrified Andrei Tarkovsky once termed it . . . [Cinematographer Vittorio Storaro] is perhaps more careful and measured than his director, lending a sort of tangibility to Bertolucci’s often oblique, contradictory emotional ranges with a diurnal, hot/cold vacillation of colors and uncannily precise mise-en-scene.

  • Clayburgh is an American opera singer living in Italy, a character ploy that allows Bertolucci to explore a clash of cultures as well as an operatic clash of emotions. Loud, vulgar, and frequently obnoxious, the film nevertheless has a perfect integrity in its excesses. This is filmmaking from the groin, unabashed and unrestrained.

  • Channelling a Viscontian elegance, Bernardo Bertolucci probes the allure of bourgeois excess to its core of perverse desire—and ultimately suggests that it’s made of frustrated dreams of normalcy. He gives Jill Clayburgh what may be her most extravagant role, as Caterina, a suddenly widowed New York opera singer who, in frenetic mourning, flees to Rome with her adolescent son, Joe (Matthew Barry).

  • The years have been kind to it. I continue to be struck by its heated, expressive ambition, its willingness to be indulgent and beautiful and deeply, deeply unpleasant. Luna seduces and repels you at the same time. It's a film about the silences and cruelties between people, but it explodes with color, music, and movement.

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