The Girlfriends – Le Amiche (Michelangelo Antonioni – 1955)

Do you see your friends as sources of support or anxiety?

More often than not, friendships provide us with mirrors through which we can interpret and validate our reality. In this film, Michelangelo Antonioni explores the intricate, at times fragile relationships between four women in Turin. The story is based on a 1949 article published in La Bella Estate (“Tre Donne Sole” by Cesare Pavese), and effectively delivers a classic masterpiece that informs Antonioni’s future works, especially Il Grido and L’avventura.

This psychological drama, loaded with ten characters, long dialogs placed against the backdrop of Turin’s rainy streets – tells the story of Cleila (Eleonora Rossi Drago) that comes from Rome to her hometown Turin to start a fashion salon. Next door in her hotel room, Rosetta (Madeleine Fischer) tries to commit suicide and this way draws Cleila into her life and circle of friends.

Antonioni’s has a keen eye for creating what I call accurate reality chunks that do not put actors front and center, but as guests in a living and breathing reality comprised of sub-plots and various other objects that take precedence. For example, the luncheon scene with Cleila and Carlo starts with unrelated patron that complains about his pasta. This independent sub-plot has no direct relevance to the plot, other than to create a richer picture of the place and people. Exquisite!

In this context, the score by Giovanni Fusco delivers a delicate and minimalistic rhythm that brings the friendships stories into a higher level, where it’s easy to identify with and appreciate the human drama.

By Shlomi Ron

Visual marketing guy with a penchant for fine Italian cinema.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *