“L’Eclisse” – Chris Luedtke

Ah, here she lays: the final chapter in Michelangelo Antonioni’s unofficial “Incomunicability Trilogy.” The name of the trilogy is probably the best one could come up with for it. Incommunicability is exactly the focus in L’Eclisse, even more so than in its previous installments, L’Avventura and La Notte. Before getting into the review, I just want to state that these films have managed to mesh themselves into some of the most humanistic cinema ever created. These are living, breathing characters that exist in our realm, facing the same problems we all face on a day to day basis. That said, let’s crack open this black box of humanity and take one last look inside.

L’Eclisse, also known as The Eclipse, throws us into the fray of awkward silence for a whole four minutes before a word, much less a sound, even comes out between Vittoria (Monica Vitti) and Riccardo (Francisco Rabal). Vittoria and Riccardo speak vaguely but detailed enough to let us understand what is about to happen that will soon change both of their lives forever. Vittoria confesses her loss of love for Riccardo and sets off without him. Riccardo sits in denial as he pleads her to reconsider, but she is already set on her decision. Vittoria leaves his house and heads off, promising to keep physical and verbal distance from him. Soon after this, Vittoria meets a man named Piero (Alain Delon), whom she finds herself becoming more and more attracted to.

To be honest, L’Eclisse is easily the weakest of the trilogy. In fact, the film becomes downright annoying because the characters just aren’t interesting. Granted, I will still contest that they are very realistic; they’re just shallow and devoid of the desire to really do anything. The relationship with Riccardo ends very early in the film, and then the rest is mostly just filler bullshit. I wish I could describe it by any other means, but unfortunately, that’s all it really is. Like I said, the characters are real, but they just aren’t very interesting. One would normally think that desperate characters are something to marvel at because they are unpredictable, but these characters just bore us to death with their monotonous lifestyles.

Antonioni’s symbolic ways are back as usual, and I will once again give him loads and loads of credit for his work on this. The symbols act as our tarot for the film, but they don’t really draw out the end for us. Rather, I must say the ending really doesn’t have much to do with the film; it’s more of just one big symbol on life. Seriously, once you spin this and get to the ten-minute ending camera sequence (which is loooong overdue by this point), you find that everything that just happened in L’Eclisse isn’t relevant to what is suddenly happening on film. It’s open for debate, though. I think some people could come up with some real good ideas on what it represents. But alas, this still doesn’t seem to have much to do with the film, now does it?

The other camera work within the film (aside from the arguably awesome ending sequence) is dreary. It’s enough to make you want to sleep. The characters’ facial expressions seldom change, with the exception of the stock market scenes; these are the only points in the film I would deem very entertaining. The beginning scene is shot well too, as simple movements mean everything. Again, as the film sallies forth, it becomes mixed in with a monotone attitude that would arguably fit. Hell, just discussing it right now feels more like a ramble than anything else, but just simple memories of L’Eclisse is enough to rock me into a slight sleep.

L’Eclisse is depressing, disappointing, and just hard to comment on for a lot of parts. Unfortunately, being stuck within these factions makes critiquing L’Eclisse very difficult. It really can’t measure up with its predecessors, but then again, Antonioni did do two amazing films before this, and how long can a good streak really last, especially concerning his content? It’s very difficult to not repeat yourself when tackling the subject of human melancholy, frustration, indecisiveness, and confusion, and he has succeeded in this with flying colors. Maybe had L’Eclisse been shortened, it would have been a better movie, for at least forty-five minutes of it feels like overkill. Still, if you’ve seen the first two, watch this one. If you haven’t seen the first two, then don’t start here, because chances are you won’t be coming back for the better films.

Rating: ★★½☆

-Chris Luedtke

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