July 02, 2012



Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon. Thanks a lot pal! Your generosity keeps the reviews coming!

Cole Smithey on Patreon


ColeSmithey.comMichelangelo Antonioni’s “L’avventura” is the first in a trilogy of modernist relationship films the auteur created to reflect Italy’s post-war crisis of desensitized culture trapped in an identity of alienation.

Notable for its distinct lack of empathetic characters and slow pacing “L’Avventura” met with fierce criticism during its premiere at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival where it was widely jeered. It wasn’t until four months later that the beautifully composed film appreciated respect at the London Film Festival, where it won a prize for “the most original and imaginative entry to be shown.”

Screen Shot 2022-04-17 at 3.17.01 PM

Antonioni subverted his mentor Roberto Rossellini’s neorealist ethos into an equally minimalist style, but one that examined the mindset of Italy’s upper class rather than neorealism’s exclusive concern with the working class. The enigmatic story for “L’avventura” follows Anna (Lea Massari), the daughter of an Italian diplomat. Anna’s wealthy boyfriend Sandro (Gabriele Ferzetti) is a disillusioned architect. Anna’s undeniably beautiful friend Claudia (Monica Vitti) joins Anna and Sandro for a boating trip to the Aeolian Islands north of Sicily with two wealthy couples whose relationships suffer.

Screen Shot 2022-04-17 at 3.16.52 PM

Adultery is in the air. A bored husband describes his wife as similar to Oscar Wilde. “Give her luxuries and she’ll do without the little necessities.” The nature of the remark is given context by another character that claims, “If you don’t quote someone, you die.” These are people who have everything, and yet are incapable of expressing love or respect. Only lust and desire matter.


Once on the jagged shores of the remote island, Anna and Sandro discuss their relationship. Upset at Sandro’s month-long business trips, Anna dismisses their marriage plans since they are already living like an unhappy married couple. The thought of losing Sandro makes Anna “want to die,” and yet she doesn’t “feel” him when they are together. In close proximity to the group, Anna mysteriously vanishes. She is nowhere to be found. Sandro and Claudia remain on the island while the others leave to send for a search team. Anna’s father arrives the next day. Upon discovering a bible in his daughter’s luggage, he dismisses the idea she committed suicide.

Screen Shot 2022-04-17 at 3.16.43 PM

Once back in Italy, Sandro engages ineffectual local police and a journalist who covered Anna’s disappearance but nothing comes to fruition. Sandro and Claudia strike up a romance that obliterates all memory of Anna. The emotional substitution works only up to a point.


“L’avventura” is a haunting film that presages Fellini’s post-modern cinema, and informs the French New Wave that gave way to such iconic auteurs as Jean Luc Goddard. Antonioni’s depiction of Italian males as beauty-obsessed dogs flips on itself to show a similar phenomenon in the privileged women who audaciously pursue Sandro at the extravagant San Domenico Palace Hotel where Sandro hunts for fresh meat while Claudia sleeps in their room. No one is satisfied.


Not Rated. 143 mins.


Cozy Cole

Cole Smithey on Patreon


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Featured Video

SMART NEW MEDIA® Custom Videos



Throwback Thursday

Podcast Series