L’Avventura takes us on a ride of love affairs, complicated characters, and breathtaking scenery. The story revolves around three main characters, namely Anna, Sandro and Claudia. Each of them bring a different perspective of what is happening to the table, and it intrigues the audience to find out what their purpose and hidden motives are. On the surface, L’Avventura can seem very extensive and dragging for some, but that is because Antonioni challenges the viewers to look deeper into what the characters’ do and say, and more importantly, what they don’t.
In the first act of the film, we are introduced to Anna, the daughter of an Italian diplomat. We don’t really learn much about her at the start aside from the fact that she is quite dramatic and hostile towards her lover that she hasn’t seen for a while, Sandro. While he tries to figure her out and when they eventually make love, her close friend Claudia is seen framed in the middle of the curtains, peeking just enough into their room. This gives us a little foreshadowing into what eventually happens to the trio.
Not long after, they go on a boat trip in order to visit a remote island. More characters are introduced, and their interactions follow. Anna even fakes seeing a shark in the ocean, and only telling Claudia this in the dressing room. Nobody can figure out what is on Anna’s mind, not even Sandro. He even asks her, “Why should we be here talking, arguing? Believe me Anna, words are becoming less and less necessary; they create misunderstandings.” Soon after their quarrel on the island, Anna disappears. The next acts of the film focus on how the other characters coped with her loss, starting off with shock, then confusion, sadness, and ultimately acceptance.
In an unexpected turn of events, Sandro passionately kisses Claudia, while she pulls herself back and questions why he did that. Viewers are just made to speculate if these two characters are simply supporting ones, or if there is something more to them. Throughout the rest of the story, it revolves around Claudia trying to wrestle with her feelings towards Sandro and her feelings towards her missing friend. Ultimately, and strangely, the two start to act as lovers and grow closer towards each other while investigating Anna’s death.
If the audience didn’t think that was enough, however, Sandro takes another turn once again. When he asks her to marry him, Claudia replied, “How should I answer? No.” It seems as though they might have progressed in their relationship with each other, Claudia still cannot override the guilt and pain she faces from missing her friend. But nothing will beat the final scene of L’Avventura, where Claudia sees Sandro cheating on her with Gloria, a very beautiful writer and aspiring “actress”, but later on goes to him weeping on a bench and watches the horizon while comforting him.
Indeed, there is no doubt that L’Avventura was made to confuse, shock, and even annoy its audience. The characters may be seen as uptight, apathetic and spoiled with lust and glamor. The story brought us many twists and turns, and made us hate characters we might have loved at first. But perhaps what this film was trying to tell us is that people, even those that seem to have it all—looks, riches, power—nothing will really fill in the emptiness that they hold within.