Looking at merely the first arc of the film—from the introduction of the characters, the wealthy upbringing, the passion shared by the characters, to the unexpected and mysterious loss of the seemingly primed major character Anna—it was beginning to look like any other film, since creating a conflict which would presumably be the center of the story. It is not the case in L’Avventura, however. The film is not about the search for a mysteriously missing woman. It is about the adventure.
The film does not follow the typical or the norm with a well-made and seamless flow of scenes in a plot. Somehow, I am also compelled to say that the film does not even feel like the normal films. Looking at how the Michaelangelo Antonioni picked the angles of the scenes and the noticeably zoomed-in frames, hearing the obvious candid sounds, realizing the obvious unsystematic plot, and noticing the blatant vibe that everything seems to be fake, the film was really less about the story, maybe a little bit about the character, but it is mostly about the experience of watching. Because only through experiencing the film on a deeper level would I be able to make sense of the characters and the unconventional plot.
I can vividly remember one of the first scenes where the camera was angled at the back of the car, as if I—the viewer, the spectator—was there along with them, on a journey. After the more than 2-hour ride of watching the film, I was drained and empty.
The experience allowed us to be in the awareness of the characters and their struggles, thus tiring. The dialogue and the different frames and actions in the film showcased how the characters seem to be problematic in a lot of different ways. They were not convincing in a sense that they could not embrace their full characters, showing hints of conflict brewing up internally.
Sandro, for example, faces the conflict of being Anna’s lover but he had troubles satisfying his sexual needs at the time when Anna was missing. His persona, being the missing woman’s lover, was challenged in the process. Eventually, somehow he has managed to lose the side of his character being Anna’s lover in a certain sense, confirming that his character shows no insistence or strength to fully embrace the character. In the case of Claudia, she faces an identity crisis throughout the film. From the beginning, she has always stayed by the side of Anna. And, this was somehow challenged when Anna was gone. There was struggle as to who she would be, and she manages to lose her own and mirror Anna instead. This is seen in numerous instances—the clothes and all. They were unconvincing, as if they themselves want to leave their own characters, which is a possibility given their backgrounds. This could explain how they sort of want an escape from a seemingly socio-political structure that they are boxed in.
Ultimately, L’Avventura shows manifestations of a truly innovative and visionary film. It was not like any film that I have seen. Sometimes though I feel as if there is a misalignment of what the intent of some scenes are to their overall effect. There was not a story being developed in the story, instead the film dug deeper into characters and into the setting through the unusual, blatant, somehow candid sounds and through the angles showcasing the landscapes and the zoomed-in faces of the characters.
L’Avventura is indeed tiring, probably to most or to a lot of spectators. It is exhausting for the mind, for the typical viewer who tries to think, who tries to connect the different scenes into one cohesive story arc that makes sense. But, it is not the intent of the film to narrate a typical storyboard that followed the normal paradigm. The film is designed to catch your attention, to capture your senses—your sight, your hearing, so that somehow you would feel and you would be part of, as the title of the film goes, the adventure. Though tiring and exhausting, it was indeed an adventure that was one of a kind.