Revelatory in 1960 with its subject matter and visual aesthetic, Michelangelo Antonioni’s (Blowup, Red Desert) L’avventura is regarded as one of the essentials of world cinema.
It’s a simple enough story. A disaffected and priviledged Anna (Lea Massari – Christ Stopped at Eboli, The Four Days of Naples) mysteriously disappears whilst holidaying on the Aeolian Islands off the coast of Sicily. In spite of disinterest by her friends, lover Sandro (Gabriele Ferzetti – I Am Love, Le amiche) and Anna’s best friend, Claudia (Monica Vitti – Red Desert, Woman with the Gun) form an alliance to find her. But in their search, they find themselves attracted to each other.
A meditation on the human condition, L’avventura is a beautifully shot black & white naturalist melodrama (if that’s not an oxymoron!) exploring the vicissitudes of relationships. Yet it’s ultimately unengaging. Artful arrangements of Sandro and Claudia on windy clifftops or convent bell towers may look beautiful, but as the wealthy socialite friends continue with their priviledged lives, so patience wears thin. Especially when the film runs for nearly 2.5 hours.