La Notte

La Notte ★★★★½

If there was ever an example of a story that cannot be told in a medium other than cinema it’s Antonioni’s La Notte. Meandering, structureless, and oftentimes deliberately obtuse, the movie is carried on the shoulders of its absolutely hypnotic black and white cinematography. Almost every one of the thousands of dazzling pictures that make up this two-hour-long mood piece can be paused and admired for days on end. Precisely staged and evocatively lit, each scene is a masterpiece in and of itself; inspiring a lifetime's worth of emotions within a mere few seconds.

If there ever was an example of a movie that needs to be digested over a long period of time, of a movie that slowly creeps within your very soul even long after the credits have rolled, it’s Antonioni’s La Notte. The iconic Italian filmmaker has practically squeezed the entirety of human experience within a single, mildly eventful night. But crucially, he has done so in the manner of a Jazz orchestration; the movie is about the emotions not expressed and about the conversations not had. Therefore there is an argument to be made that the finished product is distant and cold. However, it can also be argued that aloofness is very intentional. This is a movie about regrets, about missing parts of yourself, and about an attempt to rebuild them.

This is especially apparent in Lidia and her aimless stroll through the streets of Milan. Her many furtive glances but total unwillingness to act. Her insistence on attending a party and then refusing to mingle with the people. And her strange reluctance to share her thoughts with her husband; she is a walking, (seldomly) talking portrait of a hollow shell of a once vibrant human.

La Notte is a movie of absences. It is an exploration of what is left behind after vital human traits like passion, love, obsession, affection, anguish and everything in between are drained out of an individual. This is a movie about darkness - both literal and metaphorical - in which lingers the sad remains of broken dreams, unfulfilled desires, and missed connections.

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