review for L'Avventura on AllMovie

L'Avventura (1960)
by Lucia Bozzola review

Catcalls greeted its Cannes Film Festival premiere, but filmmakers and critics recognized the artistic importance of Michelangelo Antonioni's experiments with psychologizing film narrative, and L'avventura (1960) was awarded a special Jury Prize. Abandoning the kind of cause-and-effect plot line that might be expected in a film about the search for a missing woman, Antonioni instead sought to examine the barren inner lives of the postwar rich; the "adventure" is in the encounters between characters as they attempt and fail to make emotional connections. Limiting the audience's knowledge of Anna's disappearance to what Sandro and Claudia learn, and depicting screen actions in real time, Antonioni turns viewing the film into a direct experience of the initial excitement over the search and the waning of involvement as the effort becomes fruitless. Antonioni's carefully controlled deep focus widescreen compositions further communicate the characters' existential ennui and psychic disconnection from each other in evocatively barren environments. Bolstered by the Cannes experience, L'avventura became Antonioni's first worldwide success; released within a year of Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita (1960) and Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless (1959), L'avventura helped announce a vital new era in international art cinema.