Here is a film so widely celebrated and referenced to the point where I could name the film with absolute confidence without ever having seen it and without any idea whatsoever what the film is about. I have now spent three hours watching La Dolce Vita and I still have no idea whatsoever what the film is about.
I had avoided doing research in advance, as is my custom, since I enjoy going into a movie blind. What I did not realize is that the film is designed to be a non-linear set of episodes rather than one cohesive story in the conventional sense. I am going to put it out there: I was not into it.
I think what I had gone in hoping for was a sort of To Rome With Love experience, which illustrates the way this city envelopes you the moment you enter it. SPOILER ALERT: that is not what this movie is about. This perception most likely came from the more current films and shows that reference La Dolce Vita with such nostalgia. *
If you are like me and you have come to find yourself recognizing references that you want to better understand, then get it over with and watch it. ** However, if you are looking for a great film to curl up with on a Friday night, I’d say there are better stories out there to fill your evening with. I am compelled to mention that this is not the first time I’m at odds with the majority of a film’s reviews, however, my gut tells me that people want to love this movie more than it really merits. It’s certainly possible that I am missing something, perhaps stemming from a language or cultural barrier, but I doubt it, as I am Italian-American (-Canadian) and thoroughly enjoy Italian Cinema.
There are certainly some magical moments, namely the scene at Trevi Fountain (the one that most everybody recognizes from the movie). To me, this scene and the emotions associated with it are completely isolated to this particular “episode.” Perhaps that is precisely Fellini’s point. It stands to reason that there is a great deal of intention in the way that Fellini presented this film and that the confinement of this scene -and in turn the context of it- is unclear. Again, there may be some very deep and valid assertions throughout this film, yet on the entertainment spectrum, I cannot stand behind it.
* Under The Tuscan Sun comes to mind.
** It is NOT easy to find. No way to watch through Streaming Netflix, On Demand, or Amazon. I ended up ordering the DVD on eBay for about ten dollars.