L’Avventura (1960)

Quick plot summary:  Anna (Lea Massari) goes on a yachting trip with her best friend Claudia (Monica Vitti) and her fiance Sandro (Gabriele Ferzetti).  At one point, they get out and spend an afternoon on a virtually deserted island.  After they take a nap, they wake up to find Anna has vanished without a trace.  When a thorough search of the island and the surrounding area fails to find her, Claudia and Sandro embark on their own search for her.  In the process, they fall in love with each other and put their missing friend on the back burner.

I’m not going to lie, this was one of the most excruciatingly boring movies I have ever seen.  I was really excited to see L’Avventura because the plot sounded pretty intriguing, but I ended up spending most of the movie fighting to stay awake.  I simply did not care at all about the relationship between Claudia and Sandro.  When a woman mysteriously vanishes while on a trip, that’s the story I’m interested in.  All I got out of this movie is that Anna had a lousy best friend and fiance since they were clearly more interested in themselves than their friend.  Wherever Anna went, I sure hope she met some better people there.  The most infuriating part about this movie is that it went on for just under two and a half hours.  Two and a half hours and we don’t even find out what happened to Anna!  I apologize if I ruined the ending for you, but I feel obligated to spare you from sitting through a whole lot of nothing happening.  Maybe I would have been more forgiving about this movie if it were, say, an hour and a half long instead.  I don’t mind experimental films, but two and a half hours?  Really?!  The one thing I did like about it is that it had some beautiful cinematography.

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9 comments

  1. Antonioni is one filmmaker I still don’t get. Granted, I’ve only seen Blow Up, but I completely loathed it. L’Avventura sounds just as bad. I’m sorry you had to suffer through it, but thanks for reviewing it! One day I want to have a marathon of Antonioni films to see if I can get anything out of his work, or if he’s truly as pretentious and chauvinistic as I suspect.

    1. I don’t really get Antonioni, either. Blow Up wasn’t one of my favorites, but I’d rather spend all day watching that on repeat than watch L’Avventura just once again. At least Blow Up had some cool mod fashions and an appearance from the Yardbirds going for it, that’s a lot more than I can say for L’Avventura.

  2. The snob in me must cry foul 😉

    I have a love/hate relationship with this movie the way I have a love/hate relationship with all Antoinioni, which is maybe because Fellini is my favourite filmmaker and his works play more into my sensibilities.

    However, like Blow-Up I didn’t just shake this movie off as garbage but instead took some time to deal with it. Antoinioni is all about how people are so disconnected because of their place within society and how they fail to see or feel anything outside of that.

    Therefore it wouldn’t make sense for them to reveal what happened to the missing girl. That’s the point. They are all so caught up in themselves that, instead of find her, they drop everything and focus on an affair instead which ultimately leads to unhappiness because they represent such a class in which love (or emotional connection) is percieved as unimaginable, leading to that amazing final image.

    In a way, and it has been said before, this movie is La Dolche Vita in reverse. Where in the Fellini film the alienated man finds redemption but is too far gone to accept it, these characters on the other hand go out looking for something and all they can find is nothing. I believe Pauline Kael summed it up best when she said that these characters are like people who have grasped their hands on something only to realize it was nothing but air.

    1. Wow, thanks for taking the time to leave such a thoughtful response! I got that Antonioni was trying to do a story about that disconnection, I guess I was just more intrigued by the story of the woman who vanished. Even though I didn’t care for this one, I haven’t completely given up on Antonioni yet and am still looking forward to seeing La Notte and L’Ecclise. Maybe if I go into those with the expectation that they will be about people who can’t see beyond their own existence, I’ll get more out of them.

      1. I just started catching up on your blog on GReader (I think I found you through the Jean Harlow blogathon) and was about to give a defense of L’Avventura, which is one of my favorites (but I like existential, pretentious European films, heh), but Mike did a much better job than I would’ve. But what I wanted to say was thanks for your very gracious response to his comment – most people I know are far too quick to be defensive, and your willingness to continue to checking out Antonioni after disliking one of his films is really great, and says a lot about you. Definitely the kind of blogger I need to keep reading! I don’t know if you’ll like other Antonioni films any better, though. :p

        1. Hi, Jandy! Thanks so much for dropping by! As a rule, I try not to write off entire genres or actors/directors as a whole. Especially when I’ve only seen a few of their movies, which is the case with Antonioni. There’s always the chance that I just picked some bad ones to start with. It’d be like dismissing Bogart after only seeing Swing Your Lady and The Return of Dr. X. Plus, sometimes I eventually end up coming around to a movie. So even if I didn’t appreciate L’Avventura now, there’s always a chance that I’ll end up being a fan a few years down the road.

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