Ginger and Fred

Ginger and Fred (1986)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Reunion Films, Satire, Melodrama, Showbiz Comedy  |   Release Date - Mar 28, 1986 (USA)  |   Run Time - 126 min.  |   Countries - Germany, France, Italy  |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Craig Butler

Federico Fellini's Ginger and Fred is a surprisingly sweet film for the famous Italian director. Coming late in Fellini's career, it is appropriate that it is a movie partially concerned with memories. The two title characters, meeting again after several decades, are concerned with how their present reality will coincide with their remembered past, a predicament Fellini emphasizes through his use of lookalike actors (resembling real celebrities but not identical to them, as Ginger and Fred resemble their past selves but are not identical to them). He also sets up several other reality vs. illusion settings, including the television show upon which the title characters will appear. All of this contributes to the texture of the piece -- as does Fellini's usual surrealistic visual flourishes -- but the effect is muted and hazy, rather than profound or cumulative. Giulietta Masina and Marcello Mastroianni turn in touching, well-modulated performances. Masina uses her innate coquettishness and charisma to let the audience see the youthful woman inside of her, and Mastroianni lets the viewer know that beneath his tired exterior is a blazing spirit that has never been quenched -- but also never been put to proper use. Though not one of his boisterous masterpieces, Ginger and Fred is a film that lets Fellini explore the quiet, melancholy thoughts of an artist still restless and searching after many years.