Wednesday, July 11, 2012

#585: Identification of a Woman

(Michelangelo Antonioni, 1982)

Someone on the Criterion site flippantly referred to Identification of a Woman as Antonioni's Skinemax film, and while that might be a bit of an exaggeration, I can see his point. There's a certain dirtiness hanging in the air, reflected in the scene depicted on Criterion's cover, and the way Antonioni uses his actresses seems to veer on exploitation. Much of Antonioni's later work veered towards the erotic, and this film seems to be the beginning of that journey.

Still, the movie is not especially sexy. The protagonist seems as lost as he's depicted as being on the cover, and even the ostensible story - in which the director searches for the ideal woman for his next movie - is hardly at the center of the film. Similar to Antonioni's masterpiece, Identification of a Woman is far more concerned with where its characters find their place among each other and the world than with the resolution of any plot.

But the film is so different visually and stylistically (if not thematically) from the early 60s work that brought Antonioni international fame (and controversy) that it might be forgotten that just two decades separated those films. And while Identification of a Woman is often regarded as late-era Antonioni, the director would continue make short movies (and one feature-length collaboration) for another two decades plus. This makes Identification of a Woman less a swan song than a turning point in both a life and career. For me, this makes the left-field ending much more interesting, because Antonioni is not leaving us with an (almost literally) alienated dead end to this artistic explorations, but is instead offering an escape from the core conflicts of his career. It's a path forward for the twilight of a life that struggled with its place in history.

1 comment:

  1. I for loved this movie, i feel its an artistic expression of emotions.