Gli Sbandati (1955)

16 03 2008

While not without it’s good intentions, this ultimately amounts to nothing more than a slightly stylized Hollywood-type romance film. It’s fitting since this is the debut of one-time Antonioni assistant, Francesco Maselli, who worked only on Antonioni’s early and more conventional films. There’s some nice touches here and there, and the two leads are quite captivating but even then, in the focus to be more about crafting a wartime suspense film. This especially becomes apparent in the film’s extremely talkative second half. It’s not a complete waste of time. Get rid of the conventional plot structure and the terrible ending, make it more about the young couple and you’d probably have a pretty good movie.

Andrea and his upper-class family live in the country, and are pressured by the government to house families that have been evacuated from the war zone. Andrea agrees but only because he is intrigued by the young and beautiful Lucia. In the meantime, he becomes increasingly bored by his bourgeois buddies who find his infatuation with Lucia to be silly at best. Andrea tries multiple times to arrange meetings with Lucia, but the gap in social class distances the two even more. Their unspoken feelings for one another are finally put to the test when Italian prisoners are forced to hide inside the family’s villa.

Even with the antique style intact, I really like where this was headed. From a narrative standpoint, I really like the idea of an upper-class male bored by his surroundings, falling in love with a homeless girl. It definitely helps that the Lucia Bose is always beautiful, not to mention captivating in an intangible way. Her role in Antonioni’s Story of a Love Affair isn’t too interesting and she looks just as nice in that film so I’m going to say that there is something genuinely intriguing about the character she plays in this film. Unfortunately, she pretty much disappears around the forty-five minute mark and only comes back to provide the film with one of the worst endings I’ve ever seen. There’s a lot of promise in this film, though, and I can infer that Maselli probably got better with time. In that case, I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing his other films.



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