20 June 2009

The Conformist

I can't remember who reccommended this to me, or where I first heard of The Conformist, Bernardo Bertolucci's seventh film. It truly surprised me since I felt that The Dreamers was a movie left unfinished (even though I love Louis Garrell). The Conformist is a visual explosion set in 30s Italy and France. At times I thought I was watching a long lost Felini film, (but not La Strada, more Juliet of the Spirits) although this might have been the fact that its also a dubbed movie in which no ones lines match their lips. Overall, I think I'd tell almost everyone to see it.

I was a little nervous that I liked this movie too much, that perhaps it won me over by cheating somehow. Here is a clip from Pauline Kael's review to back me up.

"Bernardo Bertolucci wrote and directed this extraordinarily rich adaptation of the Alberto Moravia novel about an upper-class follower of Mussolini. It's set principally in 1938. Bertolucci's view isn't so much a reconstruction of the past as an infusion from it; the film cost only $750,000-Bertolucci brought together the decor and architecture surviving from that modernistic period and gave it all unity. Jean-Louis Trintignant, who conveys the mechanisms of thought through tension, the way Bogart did, is the aristocratic Fascist-an intelligent coward who sacrifices everything he cares about because he wants the safety of normality. Stefania Sandrelli is his deliciously corrupt, empty-headed wife, and Dominique Sanda, with her swollen lips and tiger eyes, is the lesbian he would like to run away with. The film succeeds least with its psychosexual approach to the Fascist protagonist, but if the ideas don't touch the imagination, the film's sensuous texture does. It's a triumph of feeling and of style-lyrical, flowing, velvety style, so operatic that you come away with sequences in your head like arias. With Pierre ClĂ©menti as the chauffeur, Gastone Moschin as Manganiello, and Enzo Tarascio as the anti-Fascist professor (who resembles Godard). Cinematography by Vittorio Storaro. In Italian." —Pauline Kael

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