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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Le amiche (Blu-ray)
Le amiche (Blu-ray)
Criterion // Unrated // June 7, 2016 // Region A
List Price: $39.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Neil Lumbard | posted June 6, 2016 | E-mail the Author
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Le amiche Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review

Le amiche is an early work from acclaimed filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni (L'Avventura). It is from producer Giovanni Addessi (Howlers of the Dock). The story for the film is based upon the acclaimed novel written by Cesare Pavese. The film focuses on a group of five women who are friends living in Turin.

The story begins to unfold as four of the five women attempt to understand the attempted suicide of one of their friends. The women are all going through various stages in their lives: all of them having wealthy financial success but some having more success in their romantic lives than the others. The film is largely about the relationships between men and women and tells this tale through the women's perspective.

The cast includes Clelia (Eleonora Rossi Drago), Lorenzo (Gabriele Ferzetti), Nene (Valentina Cortese), Momina De Stefani (Yvvonne Furneaeux), and Rosetta Savoni (Madeleine Fischer) . The Architect Cesare Pedoni (Franco Fabrizi) is also an important character who partially represents the divide between the upper and lower classes: the poverty separating some characters from the bourgeoisie.

One of the young women of the story has just started to establish her own fashion salon and struggles, in some part, to fit in entirely with her other bourgeoisie friends. She has come to accept herself as well-off in her lifestyle but also remembers her time spent impoverished. During one of the film's most important and memorable scenes she revisits her childhood neighborhood which is run-down and impoverished. It's almost as if she is stepped into a different world altogether at this point in her life.

Le amiche is certainly a noteworthy film from a production standpoint. The production design by Gianni Polidori (My Name is Nobody, Why) is naturalistic and effective at conveying the style of the time. The costume designs by Enzo Bulgarelli (White Fang) showcase the elaborate and beloved fashion of the period. The cinematography by Gianni Di Venanzo (8 1/2, Juliet of the Spirits) is lush in its black and white photography. This is a beautiful looking film which holds up remarkably well with its exquisite photography. The music composed by Giovanni Fusco (L'Eclisse, L'Avventura) is never a large focus of the filmmaking (as so much of the filmmaking is dialogue-driven) but when the music score does become utilized it adds an altogether terrific element to the storytelling.

Though the source novel is supposed to focus more on the suicide in the story (and the novel's author Cesare Pavese committed suicide years before the film was produced), Antonioni's film focuses just as much on telling the stories of the relationships between the men and women who inhabit the story. Antonioni's adaptation focuses more upon romantic relationships between men and women and the friendships that exist between the women. The  screenplay for the film was written by Suso Cecchi D'Amico and Michelangelo Antonioni.

Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni (L'Avventura, Blow-Up), Le amiche is an impressive early work from the acclaimed filmmaker. It showcases some of the stylistic elements which he would become more renowned for with later works. The film suggests some of the thematic undertones of isolation and alienation he would become associated with exploring later on in his career. The filmmaking is also stylistically creative and unique in its staging.

Antonioni's style is cold and detached. Though the relationships are the focus, Antonioni does not focus on the emotional moments as much as one might expect. Indeed, during the closing moments of the story Antonioni could have pulled audiences into a sentimental moment which would tug at the heart. Instead, Antonioni ends Le amiche with a decidedly cold final scene which accepts the ending as melancholic.

The Blu-ray:


Video:

Le amiche is presented in 1080p high definition with an impressive MPEG-4 AVC encoded image in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.33:1 full-frame. The film was remastered in 2K and has received an amazing overhaul. The image appears naturally filmic and looks beautiful. The restoration efforts were tremendous and removed countless instances of film damage, dirt, and scratches. The resulting image is clean, crisp, and has lush black and white cinematography that appears as wonderfully rich in texture as any fan could hope to find on the release.

Audio:

The audio is presented in uncompressed PCM 1.0 mono audio. The lossless presentation retains the film's original sound design. While fidelity is somewhat limited, this is a beautiful sounding presentation with good dialogue clarity. The overall quality of the soundtrack is quite excellent. The music score also sounds impressive during the presentation.


Extras:

The film is presented by the Criterion Collection with a small but insightful selection of supplemental features.

The included leaflet features an essay written by Tony Pipolo about the film and its historical significance in the filmography of acclaimed director Antonioni.

On disc supplements include:

Interview with David Forgacs and Karen Pinkus (HD, 28 min.) features the two film scholars discussing the film's style of filmmaking, story, and place with the filmography of its director, Antonioni.

Interview with Eugenia Paulicelli (HD, 23 min.) features the film scholar discussing the style and fashion of the film and how it related to the fashion in Italy found during the time of the film's production.

Final Thoughts:

Michelangelo Antonioni's Le amiche might not be considered amongst the director's finest works but it is an interesting early film in the director's filmography. The production elements are quite fantastic and the performances are impressive. The Criterion Collection Blu-ray release has an impressive 2K restoration, excellent audio clarity, and a quality selection of extras.

Recommended.

Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema, and a student who aspires to make movies. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.

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