Aug 7, 2014

Review: La dolce vita (1960)

I've seen over 3,000 movies and not one of them was directed by Federico Fellini? I should be pretty ashamed I suppose. And I call myself a film buff? Anyway, it's about time that I had a Fellini film to my watched library and La dolce vita is what I happened upon. Along with , La dolce vita is what I most often hear of being commented on when it comes to Federico Fellini so my expectations are up there.

The title translated means "the good life" and refers to the kind of lifestyle that main character Marcello Rubini leads. I didn't read anything about La dolce vita before watching it and I'll admit that I was not expecting the unstructured format that it "follows." We the viewers get an inside look at Marcello Rubini's life in seven different episodic sequences. Fellini doesn't give you everything on a nice platter though. You're responsible for closely following everything that's going on or you will fall behind.


Genre: comedy, drama
Directed by: Federico Fellini
Produced by: Giuseppe Amato, Angelo Rizzoli
Written by: Federico Fellini, Ennio Flaiano, Tullio Pinelli
Music by: Nino Rota
Running time: 174 minutes
Production company: Riama Film, Gray-Film, Pathé Consortium Cinéma
Distributed by: Cineriz, Pathé Consortium Cinéma, Astor Pictures, etc.
Country: Italy, France
Language: Italian, English, French, German
Budget: N/A
Box office: $19,516,000 (US only)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Marcello Mastroianni, Anita Ekberg, Anouk Aimée, Yvonne Furneaux, Magali Noël, Alain Cuny, Annibale Ninchi, Walter Santesso, Lex Barker, Jacques Sernas, Nadia Gray, Valeria Ciangottini, Riccardo Garrone, Ida Galli, Audrey McDonald, Polidor, Enrico Glori


Marcello Rubini (Marcello Mastroianni) is a journalist working for a gossip magazine in Rome. He's engaged to Emma (Yvonne Furneaux) but is always out and about day and night living "the good life" so that he can get good scoops for his job. Despite many glitzy nights in fancy restaurants with big celebrities and many affairs, Marcello feels like he's missing something. He ends up diving further and further into the lifestyle he follows with no end or fulfillment in sight. 


Fellini has crafted a beautiful film to look at with each individual frame that composes it. The many different locations in Rome are all immaculately captured and could easily be used as a tool for Italy to hook tourists to come to Rome. The costumes are a huge highlight of La dolce vita. Male and female characters alike ooze style with their sunglasses, huge dresses and perfectly pressed suits. Even the cars that the characters drive are romanticized from big American land yachts to tiny British sports cars. Everything put together is a feast for the eyes and could practically carry the movie without any substance.

In terms of the story, I'm not joking that you have to really pay attention to everything and be ready to make logical judgements. Not all the episodes are necessarily linear and they do make jumps in time. Watching Marcello Rubini is like watching a goldfish in a bowl, but obviously way more interesting. When does a goldfish ever get to mix it up with lots of attractive women anyway? 

In a way, La dolce vita is like a time capsule. It's like a time period frozen forever that features the discontent of one man. Even the discontent of just about everyone. There are lots of theories you could think up as to what Ldv really means and I love that. Federico Fellini has something to say about Italy, romantic relationships, friendship, aristocracy and a lot more. There's weight behind everything that happens in La dolce vita and as unstructured as it seems, it's far from it.

My initial shock to the unstructured mess that La dolce vita seemed at first gave away to utter fascination and awe. Marcello who looks cool and collected is really a shell of a man. Besides the beautiful art that La dolce vita resembles, it's a deep story that features some really cinematic moments like the Jesus statue flying over Rome and the Trevi Fountain dip. At 174 minutes it's a long film to get through but packs more than enough calories to fill its run time. 



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