More accessible and less mysterious than any of the other widely known Antonioni movies, with more of a plot in a traditional sense. Nicholson plays a disillusioned, depressed reporter who switches identity with a dead man in hopes of freeing himself from his old life. But life follows anyway, in the form of his wife and producer, who want to find out what happened to him, and the men who knew the arms dealer that Nicholson has now unwittingly become. Along the way he falls in like with Maria Schneider as a young woman who seems lost herself, and who seems to be using Jack's journey to give her own life meaning.
Nicholson is lower key than usual, and very, very good; by far the most human of all Antononi's leads. His accessibility makes the film easier and more fun than most of Antonioni's movies, but somehow there's a lack of depth and resonance of the earlier, more obtuse Antonioni films. (And still that penchant for stilted, weighty dialogue).
It's not as amazingly shot as most of the earlier films, except for a shot near the end that's one of the mot amazing 'how did they...?' shots I've ever seen.
If Schneider could act this might well have been a truly great film, but she's so wooden, especially next to Nicholson's humanity, that the central relationship doesn't carry the weight it should (and I don't buy that it's intentional).
All in all a very worthwhile, important, watchable film, but frustratingly seems to just miss being a true masterpiece.