La Dolce Vita is a revelation upon your first viewing; namely the beauty of it and its ability to surprise and shock you (the film was banned in Spain until 1981). It’s all about stretching for something more… the perfect woman, the perfect job, the perfect life (the film’s title, after all, translates to “The Sweet Life”). You can see the religious themes (a flying Christ statue from the opening shot is not exactly hiding the fact) and its views on love and life spread through the main character. That would be Marcello, a reporter disinterested in the “maternal love” his girlfriend Emma professes for him and who shows glimpses of becoming the man that his father is, a lecherous creature who never grew up and longs for the days of past conquests. But Marcello is cursed to always want what he doesn’t have, something new, exciting or even just something else, and to be too afraid to take the necessary steps to do anything about it. He doesn’t want to be with Emma but he’s unable to leave her and his attempt to write a book is pathetically dismal. His job itself might be the curse’s source, one that keeps him mingling with beautiful women and important people but never quite being one himself. There is no quintessential story arc to the movie, just a series of events that transpire with Marcello there to cover them. It’s unique and decadent, showy and natural, and if I’m to take Alexander Payne’s word for it (he does the film’s introduction), it only gets better on repeat viewings.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
By Brian Mulligan at 2:34 PM