This is Luchino Visconti's first feature film after his almost fatal heart attack. He was in a wheel chair and his left side was completely paralyzed. Enrico Medioli's original story about a man who's facing the end of his life, whether consciously or unconsciously seemed very close to the knuckle. I've read a lot of material and talked to people connected to the production before actually seeing the movie. Nothing had prepared me for what the film presents to the audience and I wondered if the film that ended up on the screen was the film that Visconti intended. Starting from the cast: the first rumors that Visconti was ready to go back to work, announced the film with Laurence Olivier and Audrey Hepburn in the roles that went to Burt Lancaster and Silvana Mangano. Anne Marie Philipe and Martin Donovan (the director) in the roles that went to Claudia Marsani and Stefano Patrizi. For what I gather, Olivier was sick at the time and couldn't accept. Audrey Hepburn turned it down, Donovan and Philipe found themselves outside the co-production regulations where two Italian nationals were required for those roles. Helmut Berger was the one who survived all the changes and I'm tempted to say: unfortunately! His character is the one who doesn't ring true. Clearly, Lancaster's character would have seen through Berger's. There is nothing in his character that made me believe Lancaster would feel attracted and fall for. Berger is a prissy, emotionally flabby, pretty boy. He is also unbelievable as Silvana Mangano's lover. The film as a whole takes place in Lancaster's dark and elegant apartment. Against his better judgment he rents the upper floor to this new, rich, beautiful and vulgar family. His world is going to start to collapse under the weight of the young invaders without soul. Solemmn, sad and a bit static the film however has a masterful center that makes it compelling viewing. Two brief cameos by Dominique Sanda as the mother and Claudia Cardinale as the dead wife bring some unexpected oomph to the grim proceedings. Even if I sound a bit down on the film I'm actually recommending it.
Drama / Romance
Drama / Romance
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A reclusive, retired professor is faced with confronting modernity when a group of vulgar youths, led by an obnoxious marchesa, take up residence in his unused upper residence.
April 15, 2021