Le amiche Screen 16 articles

Le amiche

1955

Le amiche Poster
  • Although relatively plotless, Le amiche is baroque by Antonioni's later standards. The various failed love affairs are enlivened by emotional confrontations and even a full-fledged brawl. The movie also considerably complicates the Pavese novella... In 1955, Antonioni was subtly criticized by Pavese's friend, Italo Calvino, for his lack of Pavesean subtlety. The lesson was learned—even more than Le amiche, it's Among Women Only that anticipates the Antonioni of the '60s.

  • The professional women and artistic aspirants who congregate around the heroine's Turin boutique--each a different model of eloquent neurosis--wouldn't be out of place in, say, a Joseph L. Mankiewicz film of the same period. Yet the melodramatic subplots (which Antonioni juggles rather deftly) accumulate into something far more unsettling than ALL ABOUT EVE, all but paving the way for the monumental despair of IL GRIDO and L'AVVENTURA.

  • An interesting early Antonioni that shows the master starting to refine his focus. Presaging his mature themes of ennui and the alienating effects of modernity, this tale of the Italian way of loving strikes a surprising feminist chord that shows the trap women can fall into by embracing the false notion that work and relationship must be mutually exclusive pursuits.

  • A character named Rosetta underscores a lot of what’s going on here: the search for meaning amid the tangle of modern society, a confusing welter of signs and cues that’s impossible to decode. Sort of a trial run for L’Avventura, with the central mystery arrayed around a figure who, while still alive after a suicide attempt, is nonetheless shunted off to the fringes.

  • Looking at the film with an eye toward what would follow, one can perceive seeds being planted, but it’s also just a gorgeously melodramatic outlier... Would we revere Antonioni as much if he’d continued making expertly conventional movies like this one, rather than carving out a modernist aesthetic that transformed the medium? Probably not. But we might very well love that hypothetical guy, too.

  • In a real sense, Le amiche shows us Antonioni finding his way toward the fusion of style and subject matter that would mark his best work. In this film, we see these efforts in the way the characters move about in a credible social reality, constantly before us in the forms of the city’s real spaces.

  • Antonioni’s craft lies meaningfully in the blocking of characters within space. He uses landscape, whether architectural or natural, to entrap characters. By the beach, framed by the ocean, the women crowd the frame as if to keep warm—but notably their eyelines rarely meet.

  • Beneath the surface, you can sense something stirring, something that would achieve full force in later films. Could contentment in love and career really result in any change to these people’s psychological fortunes? The formalist Antonioni that the world would come to know in just a few years — the poet of shapes, the careful arranger of figures in landscapes — only peeks through in a couple of scenes.

  • Masterfully directed in Antonioni's choreographic manner, with strong melancholic undertones.

  • The abundance of narrative betrays literary origins (Cesare Pavese's Tra Donne Sole, adapted with Suso Cecchi d'Amico), but this is one of the maestro's pre-L'Avventura masterpieces, a fluid camera framing and reframing the garrulous characters, tracking emotional energy that's later to seep out and turn atrophied.

  • The odd coupling of bitchy banter and hand-wringing over society’s sick soul often makes Le Amiche feel like a production of The Women directed by Samuel Beckett, but you can see Antonioni woodshedding his signature move: set alienated characters adrift within expressionistically open spaces, rinse, repeat. It’s a trial run that puts many of his peers’ masterpieces to shame.

  • Le Amiche is Antonioni’s Nights of Cabiria, his Solaris, his Breaking the Waves, his La Chinoise, and his Voyage to Italy: A key transitional film where, beneath an artist’s emerging new aesthetic, a heart not just beats but screams.

  • The suicide is a blood sacrifice that, tragic as it is, provides the key to the other characters' happiness/fulfillment. Except...and this is really brilliant...it totally does no such thing, instead offering a series of images and actions that are the exact opposite of what you've expected and/or hoped for. As cinematic coup de theatres go, it's pretty remarkable.

  • The most intriguing character in this exceptional film is Momina (Yvonne Furneaux), a beautiful woman separated from her rich husband. A pre-incarnation of the most cynical of characters in La dolce vita(Federico Fellini, 1960), she is cleverly summed up by Clelia towards the end of the film: “You play with the emotions of the others as if they were of your kind. You, who don’t even know the nature of emotions.”

  • What makes this conventional drama enigmatically original is the details... Antonioni’s quietly audacious attempt to convey the inner workings of modern life is also a standard-issue romance—of exactly the sort that fills his heroines’ minds.

  • The film is Antonioni configuring a multitude of cinematic and literary predecessors into a sporadically experimental, but still character-driven whole, whereas his subsequent films became less interested in character psychology than in how the human figure became a means to understand the material elements surrounding them.

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