“L’Avventura” – Chris Luedtke

Few things are as absorbing to be as humanity. The depth of it is intriguing — the things people do, what they say, rebuttal, response, regret. Everyone is a big stew pot of emotional charge, whether it be comedic, dramatic, sarcastic, spiteful, or loving. L’Avventura is a good example of humanity in the heat of love, loss, escape, and regret. L’Avventura is Michelangelo Antonioni’s first piece in the unofficially-titled “Incommunicability Trilogy,” and what a more fitting name for these films.

L’Avventura follows a group of rich people who go on a boating trip to the Mediterranean. Once the group sets upon the island, pent up emotions erupt between the engaged Anna (Lea Massari) and Sandro (Gabriele Ferzetti). As the couple silences, they turn heads from each other; shortly thereafter, Anna goes missing, just after expressing her desire to get away from Sandro and just be alone. Anna’s best friend Claudia (Monica Vitti) and Sandro begin a frantic search for Anna, but soon for Claudia, the search becomes less about Anna and more about finding love and meaning in life.

Antonioni once again does a crackerjack job with the film overall. I can’t safely say its free from flaws, but it does a great job of showing the weakness of one’s humanity when something is lost. The characters here come right off the screen in full 3-D with nearly unparalleled depth. By the end, I was actually sitting in shock at what just happened on screen. But the ending of this film just goes to show that nothing ever works out the way we want it to. This is often driven by not only our own desire to stay in our familiar ways but also by outside forces that create this comfort; sometimes all it takes are those three little words.

The story itself is also enough to drive right into our souls. L’Avventura gives us one chance to see ourselves with that one person we could never be with. To see how perfect that person is from the comfortable distance. But wait, suddenly we are thrown in with that person, and this is no longer a quest revolving around Anna, her disappearance feeling more like a secondary goal. Suddenly, this one person is ours up close and personal, but they are not what we expected them to be all the time, but neither are you in your desperation. Such situations are exactly what L’Avventura explores as it dives deeper and deeper into that vast Mediterranean, where all of this exploded. Although the search for Anna is on, so is the emotional eruption between Claudia and Sandro as they embrace and try to deny one another, going as far as to try taking separate trains in order to separate the brooding desires between them. The search for love is here, the quest for meaning is at neigh — but will it ever end?

Perhaps this review has been too cryptic compared to my more basic ones. But I feel I cannot describe L’Avventura in any other way. And as I said earlier, it is not without its flaws. The film clocks in at over two hours, which felt like a stretch until its final moments. The ending scene is…wow. That’s something you gotta experience. You jaw might just fall right out of your mouth, and you can’t tell me that there isn’t a massive amount of symbolism in that last shot, much less the entire film. If you haven’t gotten a chance to experience the Incommunicability Triology, then here is your starting point, followed by La Notte and then L’Eclisse. Definitely check out L’Avventura. You won’t get explosions, guns, or Tarantino-sharp dialogue, but you’ll get a hefty dose of healthy humanity among the likes of which you many have never experienced before.

Rating: ★★★½

-Chris Luedtke

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