Tuesday, December 31, 2013

236 of 1001 Movies: The Conformist (1970)

 Bernardo Bertolucci has made a trademark with several things, but probably most notably the nudity he features throughout. This one doesn't fail with that expectation, plus the rampant sexual scenes throughout. You might have heard of Last Tango In Paris. Even though they aren't graphic they still imply a lot. Unlike 1900 though the characters just didn't garner my interest as much.  Especially the lead character, Marcello.

Summary: Marcello has just been hired to work for Mussolini as a spy. This also makes him a fascist. In order to make him more of a conformist he also marries Giulia. On his honeymoon to Paris he is to carry out an order of eliminating someone who is considered anti-fascist. A professor has fled Italy in retaliation of the new government with his wife, and they don't like the scene he is stirring. Once arriving there though Marcello finds himself falling for the professor's wife making the task a bit more difficult. The professor and his wife are also aware of his fascist ways, but they continue to trust him. Intertwined with flashbacks, the story conveys where Marcello's violence began along with it's ties in sexuality.

Acting: Jean-Louis Trintignant is the lead as Marcello, and honestly he just seems really stiff the whole time. There is a whole lot of emotion, and for some I'm sure they will love his calm performance that at times is chilling when he seems so unable to show emotion. I do like more emotion though, and there were so many scenes where I wanted more. Stefania Sandrelli is Giulia and her performance is good as the naive and young woman who seems like she is unaware of the deeper issues occurring. Dominique Sanda is Anna, and plays the role very well. She is quiet, but her demeanor speaks volumes. Of all the actors she was the most intriguing.

Filming: The strongest point of the movie are the shots. You have the different colors that light a scene, and sometimes Bertolucci goes way over board on being artsy to the point where he doesn't care if scenes like on the train look real or fake. It creates an effect that is more interesting than the story itself. The music score sounds highly outdated though. The movie is set in 1938, but doesn't really utilize the sounds from that time to make it pop from that time period.

Plot: The way the story is told is interesting, but if I hadn't read a summary beforehand I would have no idea what I'm watching at first. The movie begins with Marcello already in Paris, and then through flashbacks we lead up to the point where he is where he is in the present. The story flies a bit everywhere. It does utilize the interesting shots to weave in and out of the story. I also thought the women in the story were just poorly portrayed. Any women who appears in the movie ends up taking her top off. Unless you're one who is just a female who appears in the background since then it would make no sense. The story has it's heartbreaking moments, it conveys an interesting time in Italy, but I think a more linear story would have worked better.

The Conformist is unique, and it adheres to what you'll find in a Bertolucci movie. I think with 1900 though his way of story telling worked better. The Conformist features some interesting developments and some moments where it shows how the political landscape changed in Italy, but you might want to get out a history book beforehand just to skim it to better grasp the ramifications of being against Fascism at the time.

Rating 7 of 10.

The Conformist (1970) on IMDb

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