SilentDawn’s review published on Letterboxd:
Federico Fellini. I've heard so much. As countless others have proclaimed, he was a master of the cinema. So, with massively high expectations, I dove head-first into my first Fellini.
Simply put, 8 1/2 is magical.
I have never seen a film that weaves in and out of a man's hopes, dreams, memories, desires, and worries so seamlessly. In fact, there is nothing like this. Nothing. I sat slack-jawed for 138 minutes, trying to comprehend how one individual could dream this high, and have a film soar that high as a result of his aspirations.
The entire tapestry of the film is so layered, and yet, so monstrously entertaining, that you wonder if this is the perfect combination. The combination between Art and Entertainment. 8 1/2 rides this fine line with such ease and versatility, you can't help but wonder if this was a film crafted in a laboratory; crafted by scientists with the hope of making a perfect cinematic experience. However, never does 8 1/2 feel sterile. Instead, a ever-present soul lurks in the black and white cinematography, and it leaps out when you are most vulnerable.
Speaking of the cinematography, it's magnificent. Like a magical and playful circus act, the lighting and textures take up a mind of their own; always teasing and toying with the audience. As the lights fade, or the reflections startle, the serene turns to dread; telling the viewers more about our characters more than any script could hope to do.
8 1/2 is perfect. The acting is phenomenal, with Marcello Mastroianni playing the lead role of Guido with conviction and honesty. The screenplay brings up big ideas, but never lays them on too heavily. The set-pieces are gorgeous and inviting, tantalizing and seductive. The story is the perfect starting point for such a personal and dense odyssey. Everything in this film is flawless.
And like a magic act, It's gone right before your eyes. Right before you've had a chance to appreciate Fellini's marvelous circus-act of a masterpiece.