La Dolce Vita (1960)


La Dolce Vita – IMBb 246/250

Described on the always trusted Wikipedia as ‘one of the most critically acclaimed films of all time’, I finally got round to watching the three hour epic La Dolce Vita (1960), a film basically following around gossip journalist Marcello Rubini, played by Marcello Mastroianni, over seven days and nights through various escapades, starting with a romantic tryst between him and an heiress, to a final hedonistic party where he tries to dress up a woman as a chicken. Been there.

Shot mostly in Italian, if you don’t like watching films with subtitles this immediately will not be a film for you, as reading them for three hours might be an exhausting experience for some people. As in the end it turned out to be for me.

Essentially La Dolce Vita can be broken down into seven episodes with a prologue and epilogue, as we follow Marcello through his life in Rome. The main problem I had watching this film was some of the episodes were quite interesting and even thought provoking, as it dealt with issues such as religion, hedonism, happiness, love, and even tabloid journalism, which is clearly extremely relevant today. It depicts the vulture nature of journalists, as they relentlessly follow around their prey, particularly shown when they hound a poor woman whose children have just been killed.

But some of the episodes really dragged and failed to add much to the film, such as the episode where he visits a castle with friends for a party, which only prolonged the length of the movie rather than adding anything to the message it was trying to convey.

The main thing I thought when watching La Dolce Vita was I can see why people would like this film, even romanticise it as a classic piece of cinema, but it just wasn’t the sort of film I enjoy.

The iconic sequence between him Anita Ekberg, who despite being the advertised star only features for about thirty minutes, was just that, iconic, but not something I felt invested in, and it didn’t really lead anywhere.

The famous fountain scene

The famous fountain scene

But perhaps that was the point of La Dolce Vita. Translated as The Sweet Life or The Good Life in English, this is a film where essentially nothing happens, we just follow a guy live his life, not knowing who he truly is or where he is going, it seems like a sweet life for Marcello, but you see he is not truly happy.

In the end nothing really stayed with me, other than the surprising double murder suicide that takes place by one of Marcello’s friends, but even that ends without any real explanation.

(One thing I remember though, the word paparazzi comes from a character in this film Paparazzo, another tabloid journalist. Nice little fact for you there).

I can say it was shot beautifully, the lighting was fantastic, the cinematography was impeccable, but that isn’t something I really know anything about or understand. When I watch a film I think is this something I can watch again, was it entertaining, did its message affect me, and with La Dolce Vita the answer is no.

Simply put La Dolce Vita was a film I can appreciate, but not enjoy.

My Rating: 3/10



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