copyright © Jedo Dre 2011

This is a film about seven days worth of the adventure of a celebrity journalist played by Marcello Mastroianni, mostly about him chasing the tails of various women, but there is a lot more to it than that.

This movie is a cynic. It keeps introducing a situation and then showing the somber dirty layer underneath it. The writing is pretty good in how it exposes the dirty drama and shows the contrast between sensations and real suffering. I can see why the church got angry at this film. There is a good bit of religious content in the film and it is treated with equal cynicism, with a whole scene dedicated to showing how a miracle is exploited.

The biggest problem is that the story is inflated and certain parts are hard to follow. The movie opens with a Jesus statute being transported to the Vatican. Why? What is the purpose of the scene? Who are these girls the main character is suddenly talking to and why? Never really explained. It has something to do with the religious symbolism of the film but does not feel very obvious or relevant . The fact that the movie covers 7 days is supposed to be meaningful but who is honestly going to notice that? Do you count things like the number of days when you watch a movie, unless someone told you about it in advance? Of course you do not, so it is useless.

The movie is under three hours but feels more like 30 hours. Some conversations seem to go nowhere. There is a scene that drags on forever in which a bunch of people are exploring a haunted house. There are all these random people that start appearing towards the end. In combination with the style of dialogue, this movie can feel like a drag, especially towards the end.

The dialogue has a slight poetic color to it, and as a result, there are sentences that will fly past the average viewer. But most of it is interesting and grabs attention.

Acting is of mixed quality. For one, it has a specific sterile style to fit the aforementioned stylized dialogue and takes some time getting used to. At times it feels like two actors are having an abstract conversation on an avant-garde stage. Another thing is that, while most actors are good, some are not. Anita Ekberg playing a busty American actress made a mess of fakeness out of her role, with her dubbing in particular being very poor. The spoken dialogue in general is badly lip-synced.

The movie is very Italian in its visuals. The actors are smoking as they are drinking and wearing sunglasses that look like they were the pinnacle of fashion of the time in which the movie was made.

The cinematography is good when it comes to art, to transferring a message to the viewer, but can be quite bad when it comes to the technical aspects with a few glaringly obvious annoyances.

There is this one scene in particular where two actors are standing in front of what is clearly a blurry movie screen rather than a real background. They speak something but their dialogue is poorly lip-synced. There is a very obvious glimmering wire attached the hat of an actress, which then gets pulled and the hat flies off simulating wind.

Mind you, this is a movie that had enough money to shoot scenes with the helicopter carrying a big statue from above, a scene that was not even that important, but apparently could neither film on location nor find an alternative location that could work.

In the past filming of people against a film background was common when shooting inside vehicles but in this movie it is overused and especially obvious. Movies usually attempt to hide the blemishes, for example by only showing the scene for a short time. In La Dolce Vita, the camera always takes its sweet time.

La Dolce Vita is a curious bag of interesting scenes but also scenes that are overstretched, with over-the-top dialogue and technical issues. Nonetheless, La Dolce Vita has impact and is worth watching just for that.

La Dolce Vita