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Antonioni's magnificent 1961 head trip - starring Marcello Mastroianni, Jeanne Moreau, and Monica Vitti - gets some Criterion Blu-ray love...
Acorn Media / 122 Minutes / 1961 / Unrated / Street Date: October 29, 2013
As acclaimed and admired as Michelangelo Antonioni continues to be, a repeat viewing of La notte – especially on this exemplary new Criterion Blu-ray edition – proves that the guy remains somehow underrated. La notte drips with pretense, of course, but this 1961 watershed is a movie that milks every nook and cranny of the cinematic format for all it’s worth. Nothing in it is incidental or without distinct purpose: La notte is a vision, a singular demonstration of profound storytelling prowess.
Synopsizing the movie makes it sound far more arty and desolate than it feels. Taking place over the course of one day and one night, the movie follows a writer (Marcello Mastroianni) and his wife (Jeanne Moreau) as they come to the realization that their once-fulfilling marriage has come to a critical stall. They walk around Milan, cross paths with loony debutantes (the iconic Monica Vitti), and discuss death and passion as it relates to their union.
Fitting in quite snugly next to Red Desert and L’avventura, La notte is a sadly enthralling autopsy of a relationship and whether our world culture at large truly has the capacity to keep even successful marriages together. It’s a movie of ideas and theories, one of deep feeling and lucid philosophy. It meanders and stares at its navel in fits and starts, but that’s a genuine facet of its genius. Here’s hoping Criterion will release Antonioni’s loose trilogy – L’avventura, La notte, and L’eclisse – as a Blu-ray box set someday soon….