L'Eclisse Movie Review

It's impossible not to sound like a snob when writing about Antonioni's movies -- hell, the guy's name is "Michelangelo" -- but writing about the spare L'Eclisse is the worst job of all.

Antonioni's films rarely vary from a tight thematic script that ranges from melancholy to loneliness to despair. In L'Eclisse, he focuses that beam on Monica Vitti, an almost stereotypically detached Italian woman whose engagement falls apart in the opening scenes of the film -- though it's virtually without dialogue for 15 minutes. Eventually Vitti's Vittoria hooks up with Piero (Alain Delon), and the remainder of the film concerns their relationship -- as it were, anyway.

Piero is a haughty and ambitious stockbroker, the near opposite of the aloof Vittoria. A solid chunk of the film follows Piero on the trading floor of the stock exchange (and despite having an MBA I couldn't begin to fathom how this oddball stock market could possibly have worked). Vittoria idly stands by while Piero screams and shouts -- she might as well be waiting to be hanged.

And yet he's drawn to her. Their dates consist largely of walking around the nearly barren streets of where, Rome? Eventually there is drinking and retiring to a room somewhere. One is reminded of La Dolce Vita, just without anyone enjoying themselves.

Antonioni delves a little too far into the ethereal here for my tastes. One example: Piero tells Vittoria he's going to kiss her when the get across the street. Midway across she replies, "We're halfway" and pauses there. The double meaning is touching yet obvious. But what the hell, why should a little symbolism get in the way of a love story.

Ultimately, Antonioni says that relationships are probably doomed. We'll never understand each other. To live is to die alone. The usual stuff he's explored throughout this rough "trilogy" -- the first two parts being L'Avventura and La Notte. L'Eclisse is a beautiful and often haunting movie, and while one feels the passion that Antonioni puts into his movies, one also gets the slightest sense of a wish that he'd go ahead and grow up a little already.

Now on a gorgeous Criterion DVD , L'Eclisse includes a second disc that documents Antonioni's career, a staid commentary track, various essays, and other assorted goodies.


Comments

L'Eclisse Rating

" Good "

Rating: PG, 1962

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