Difficult, distant, yet often fascinating,
This review is from: La Notte [Masters of Cinema]  [DVD] (DVD)
Challenging and emotionally muted on 1st viewing, I still found this largely a very interesting portrait of a bourgeois marriage crumbling, observed during one afternoon and night.
The couple visit a seemingly dying friend in the hospital, attend a book signing for the husband's new novel, stop at a nightclub where they barely even react to an erotic floor show, and then head to a party for a rich industrialist who is celebrating the first win by his new racehorse, Both Marcello Mastroianni and Jeanne Moreau do terrific work as the deadened and estranged couple. He no longer even identifies with his own writing, feeling it's just a product, like that made by the industrialist. He's even lost his sense of lust. She no longer feels love for him, and seems locked in loneliness and depression. It's a tough movie to take, grim, humorless, almost as dead feeling as its leads, but that would seem to be the point.
My only problem, as I've occasionally had with Antonioni, is that well before the end I felt I had gotten these themes clearly and powerfully, and there was, after that, a certain sense of hammering home ideas that had already been expressed beautifully with a lighter touch (there's a key reveal near the end that I saw coming a mile off). But the images (of course) are striking and memorable, as are the performances, and the sad gloom that hovers over this world of people who seem to have it all, and yet feel so little.