Romantic movies never really appealed to me, new or old. Perhaps the only romantic films I’ve genuinely enjoyed have only ever been romantic stories in the context of a larger genre or theme – an action movie, a musical, etc. Furthermore, I’ve always had an aversion to movies that depict infidelity, as they often border on its glorification. Perhaps these prior personal opinions are what gave me my initial reservations throughout the course of the film.
Nonetheless, L’Aaventura embodied European Cinema at its finest once more – though it may not be as avant garde nor ostentatiously “weird” or “odd” as its counterparts e..g., the films we’ve seen in this class prior, it nonetheless portrayed, in a more subtle way, especially with regards to narrativity, and perhaps the slow pacing of the plot.
First and foremost, the film is, quite obviously, not an adventure about the search for Anna – she is barely mentioned. The adventure could be interpreted in a multiplicity of ways exploring a variety of different themes – is it the adventure in the progression of Sandro and Claudia’s relationship? An adventure into the exploration of the bastardry of cheating men and men in general? An adventure into the aftermath of Anna’s disappearance, an exploration into the relationships she has and how little it seems everyone seems to care about her – the shallowness of human relationships, the finite nature of commitment and fidelity to girlfriend, friend, or acquantace? Is it a testament to human shallowness and how easy it is for us to forget? The only person who seems to give a damn is her best friend Claudia. And yet even the strength of her commitment to Anna is tried, tested, and has its own perceivable flaws.
La’aventura is not exactly a love story, rather, a story of sexual desire. The storyline was both simple and simultaneously complicated in its ambiguity, rendering some viewers perhaps even frustrated at the lack of “huge” events or at least a single narrative that binds the entire story together. We initially are led to believe that the film is about Anna and “The Adventure” is about their search for her, but the character of Anna ultimately regresses into the background and we transition to the story of Sandro and Claudia, who intermittently mention Anna, with Claudia’s character finally coming into the foreground as she transitions from minor character to a character whose relationship with Sandro becomes the plot that creates the main storyline. It is important to note here that it seems like she is the sole person who still gives a damn, and this is perhaps what makes her character rather likeable as opposed to the others towards whom I personally felt no affliction or feeling. While we are introduced to Anna at the very beginning of the film, she disappears, and we never get any closure whatsoever as to her disappearance. What, then, is this story about?
Another break of expected plotlines here occurs in the location. Antonioni’s films have the quality of being rather languid, and slow. Here, there are so many things going on, and yet none of it occurs on the island where Anna disappears.
Nonetheless, the film is striking. It can be even be likened to a silent film. While there is no sense of closure, there is always something about the gestures of the characters, the smoothness of their movements and the transitions in their interactions, that speak volumes. There are even certain points in the film wherein we seem to be intruding upon the characters (e.g., the window scene) moments meant to be private and intimate are filmed in such a way that is seems like the director wants us to actively feel this as if we are imposing on an actual moment – as if we are intruders instead of film viewers.
Relating the film to A Woman is a Woman and Persona, the three are all classified as Art cinema, and yet are all so distinctly different. There is a need to focus on their narratives, and how these narratives are portrayed on screen, all of which offer a distinct type of viewing experience.
However, again European film and film does not rely solely on its story to project what it aims to portray and send out into the world – L’Aaventura was Art because it was untraditional in its on-screen portrayal and plotting. Despite its incongruity and moments of languidity that sometimes make it difficult to watch, the beauty of it is that it manages to keep your attention, and despite not feeling invested in any of the characters, and despite our propensity to hate them all, we continue watching. And watching. Despite the closure that never comes.