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Customer Review

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The party`s over, 29 Mar. 2014
This review is from: La Dolce Vita [DVD] (DVD)
This must have been an astonishing film to watch on its release in 1960, upsetting as it did the Catholic Church and no doubt much of the society it depicts with such cavalier cynicism.
What a strange and exasperating country Italy is, or at least was, with its macho yet nevertheless mother-fixated men, its own peculiar celebrity culture, its `men of honour`, and bang in the middle of it all the seat of its religion.
Fifty years ago, being satirical of the church must have sat uneasily with most Italians, though this very dated classic is more intent on offering up a lengthy satire on the bohemian leisured class, the eternal party-goers exemplified by Mastroianni`s jaded journalist who wants to be a serious writer, and the emerging paparazzi, who are shown here crowding round any and every event like flies around a rotting carcass.
Mastroianni is terrific in the central role of Marcello (many of the characters keep their own names, including the young Nico as a carefree party-goer) with Anouk Aimee and Yvonne Furnieaux superb as his lover and fiancee. The odd thing is that the acting now looks far better and more powerful than the film itself, which has not only dated but now seems almost as shallow as the world it portrays, for nearly three hours.
Even the most devoted Fellini fan would surely agree that some of the scenes go on much too long, for example the early visually confusing child-sees-Madonna section, and there are too many chaotic party scenes, with guests coming and going to no great purpose.
I first saw La Dolce Vita many years ago (possibly on TV, when you could regularly see such things as part of seasons of directors` films - oh happy, sadly departed days!) so it was fascinating to watch it again. I`d forgotten it was in black and white, and I`d forgotten just what a fine actor Mastroianni was.
The pneumatic Swedish actress Anita Ekberg has a few effective scenes as a visiting actress, frolicking with Marcello in the Trevi Fountain in a sequence rather more famous than it deserves.
The ubiquitous paparazzi are an all too prescient device, though they quickly become as irritating as they are no doubt meant to be.
The ending (of a film that in truth has no `ending`) is simply sentimental, set up by Fellini as a rather obvious symbolic metaphor. A young waitress from earlier in the film appears again, as the party guests gather on the shore...
Despite my ruthless criticisms, this is well worth seeing, but I honestly can`t imagine anyone these days would wish to see it more than once.

An intriguing, ambitious relic of a past age.
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Location: York UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 69