In this beguiling second entry in Antonioni’s celebrated trilogy that also includes L’Avventura and L’Eclisse, Mastroianni radiates brooding energy as Giovanni Pontano, a successful novelist who spends a day and a night drifting through the starkly beautiful built and natural environments, and the unsettlingly superficial social settings, of 1960s Milan. Drifting alongside him, on a path that alternately intersects with and diverges from his own, is his wife Lidia (Jeanne Moreau); the fate of their imperiled marriage supplies the film’s emotional focal point. Meanwhile, husband and wife encounter tragedy and temptation in equal measure—the latter partly in the form of a watchful, seductive Monica Vitti. Shot in lusciously textured black-and-white, the film offers a melancholic, unblinking portrait of a time and a place, a social class, and a relationship.
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