Identification of a Woman (Michelangelo Antonioni / Italy, 1982):
(Identificazione di una Donna)

"A feeling in female form" is admitted as Michelangelo Antonioni’s starting point, its contours bemuse and bewitch the wandering filmmaker (Tomas Milian) seeking meaning in the narrative of his own life. Locked out of his hotel room, he jots down ideas on a notepad ("When they divorced, she took her fears with her. But the alarm remained"): The alarm siren is but one of many modernist irritations the protagonist faces, the answering machine and ‘80s electronic score might have been suggested by Tashlin, and, indeed, the opening reappears in Lewis’ Cracking Up. Milian first meets socialite Daniela Silverio as a mysterious voice in the gynecologist’s waiting room, then scoffs at a thug’s vague threat as one of "the things one does for ice-cream" -- do Gérard Brach’s contributions to the screenplay account for its rich and plentiful gags? Actually, they flow directly from Antonioni’s autumnal ruminating, frank about the role of sex in relationships yet now playful and relaxed in mellow acknowledgement of career-long themes. Woman is still the Great Unknowable, yet never given more sparkling variety: Silverio bemoans society’s lack of structure at a soiree and devours Milian’s post-cunnilingus lips, Christine Boisson has equestrian spunk and touching vulnerability, Lara Wendel by the swimming pool recalls a baby-dykeish episode as her "anti-male protest." Accordingly, Antonioni’s technique is pushed into summarizing perfection twice -- the yellow sign blinking in the fog, plus the dinghy in the Venetian lagoon, "bellissimo... ma triste" both -- and pared down to a twilight fluidity, a track and dissolve locating the romping couple under billowing sheets. (The camera dollies back from a nude Boisson on the toilet, who enquires as Milian caresses her face: "Are you lining up a shot?") The investigating artist absolves all of it into his work, even the expanding sun Milian reads about finds a place in his new project, which traces an acerbic line from a b&w Louise Brooks profile to Star Wars while suggesting that Zabriskie Point and The Passenger were science-fiction after all. The stupefying finale shows how an artist’s emotions on the screen can be be reduced to a special-effect, or, with Antonioni at the helm, how such an image becomes sublime once it comes to embody these emotions. Also with Veronica Lazar, Enrica Antonioni, Gianpaolo Saccarola, and Marcel Bozzuffi.

--- Fernando F. Croce

Back to Reviews
Back Home