L’Avventura (1960) Film Review
By Dima Saqfalhait
Claudia: Tell me you love me.
Sandro: I love you.
Claudia: Tell me you don’t love me
Sandro: I don’t love you
I have mixed feelings about today’s Italian film: L’Avventura (The Adventure; 1960) by Michelangelo Antonioni. On one hand, it defies a lot of our notions about what good cinema is and should be, which I found to be brilliant. But on another, it is almost empty of a plot or action (which is, ironically, how it defies “standard cinema”).
Anna goes on a cruise near Sicily on a yacht with her lover, Sandro, her close friend Claudia, and other friends. Anna has a fight with Sandro over his long business trips and stretched absences.
“Why should we be here talking, arguing? Believe me Anna, words are becoming less and less necessary; they create misunderstandings.”
Anna mysteriously disappears on an island right after the fight. Sandro, along with her friends begin a search for her. Meanwhile, Sandro develops an attraction towards Claudia, Anna’s friend, who, after much resistance, reciprocates the love. Just like that, Anna is out of the picture. Sandro and Claudia continue their search for Anna, while also falling for one another deeply as the film advances. If you think something does not sit quite right well you’re right, and I guess that’s what the point of the film is all about.
“How can it be that it takes so little to change, to forget?”
The film won numerous awards (most notably in Cannes Film Festival) and was voted by Sight & Sound as one of the best films ever made. However, that does not mean it did not receive its own share of criticism for clearly lacking in plot. We see several long “action-less” takes in the film, or else actions that do not serve in advancing the plot. And most importantly, we never find out what happens to Anna in the end.
“Who needs beautiful things nowadays Claudia. How long will they last?”
The film is hailed for showing a state of disappearance not only for Anna but other characters as well who seem to be on the brick of disappearance in their own pursuits of pleasure. It is not a film about cheating nor betrayal. It is perhaps about our fleeting time on this planet, and how nothing really truly matters as everything, with the right circumstances, might as well be replaced and forgotten.
I think only after I reflected on the film’s plotline have I realized that I liked it, but sadly not throughout watching it.
“Hear the echo. Why is it empty?”
For more film recommendations, please check out Dima’s Saqfalhait’s IG account @cine.words.
Anna goes missing during a boat trip to a remote volcanic island with her boyfriend Sandro and best friend Claudia. Despite her disappearance, Claudia and Sandro get involved romantically.
Release date: September 14, 1960 (France)
Director: Michelangelo Antonioni
Cinematography: Aldo Scavarda
Story by: Michelangelo Antonioni
Screenplay: Michelangelo Antonioni, Tonino Guerra, Elio Bartolini