All Tomorrow’s Parties

24. La Dolce Vita (Federico Fellini, 1960

I have a fondness for posters that depict ‘dry-humping’. Really there just isn’t enough of that.

This film was my introduction to Fellini, and to a fine piece of man-candy in Marcello Mastroianni. Think of Mastroianni and Fellini, as De Niro and Scorsese. This is a 3 hour film where nothing really happens. It’s the standard Fellini film, nicely shot, meanders an awful lot, and in the end you are not sure what to do with it.

In this case I found reading about it helped me gain an understanding that I didn’t have. The whole point of the film is that it is about a guy who wants to change, but doesn’t do anything about it. And so the fact that the movie doesn’t really build to anything is the whole point. Each sequence in the film is an isolated incident, we don’t learn anything about the Marcello, and he doesn’t learn anything about himself.

It’s all set against a backdrop ofame and indulgence. Mastroianni plays Marcello a tabloid writer who wants to do something worthwhile, but is to busy living the sweet life(la dolce vita) to really do anything about it. He is surrounded by glamour, excitement, and action. He basically travels from party to party, getting drunk and fucking around. Everyone else is doing the same thing. His world is hollow but oh so seductive.

The film is really interesting in the fact that it doesn’t resolve itself. Marcello isn’t changed at the end, but he isn’t worse off or anything. Just a little bit older that’s all. The things I feud Fellini about are sometimes the same things I really like about him. Fellini makes these slow moving, meandering pictures with plenty of boring parts in them, but in the end it’s that very fact that makes the movie memorable. I read someone’s quote on imdb, that basically suggested it was the waiting for something to happen scenes in Fellini’s films that set up the good parts and ultimately make the picture.

You typically want to see the character change, or achieve some resolution, but in this and in 8 1/2, nothing really is different at the end of the movie. So on one hand it can be seen as a waste of time, but on the other hand that’s the whole point. Sometimes people don’t change. But it’s not often that movies are made about that.

On filmaffinity.com I gave this film an 8/10, it’s wonderful to look at, and it’s both simple in design and complex in meaning. Plus it has Nico in it. It’s not for everyone, though.

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