Monday, August 15, 2011

#195: I Fidanzati

(Ermanno Olmi, 1962)

Il Posto was excellent but I Fidanzati truly moved me. It's a unique love story in the way that the previous film was a unique story of work. The couple at the center of the film is so average, so unremarkable, that they take on a universal quality. And yet, the grand statement of the film (however modestly it is presented) seems to be that every life is remarkable and every love story is the stuff of epics. The final moments of the film are so authentic and heartbreaking that the film has continued to stay with me weeks after I watched it.

The basic premise of the movie is - like that of Il Posto - simple enough. A man is offered a better job in Sicily, forcing him to leave his girlfriend behind in Milan. Their relationship - strained initially by their mundane lives and the monotony of routine - ends up growing stronger by his absence, leading to some of the most romantic moments of any movie I can remember.

Olmi's work is so simple and contained in scope that I'm not surprised I wasn't exposed to his work earlier. It's a real shame, though, because these are two of the best Italian films I have ever seen, particularly I Fidanzati, which manages to capture a moment in Italian history from an average citizen's perspective with a sure hand, devoid of overreaching ambition and imbued with a love for the country and its people.

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