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La Strada (rewatch)

Posted by martinteller on May 8, 2012

After adoring Giulietta Masina in Nights of Cabiria and Juliet of the Spirits, I felt I should return to this one, almost certainly her most famous and beloved role (I believe it’s also my father’s favorite film, but I’d have to double-check with him).  I often cringe a bit (or a lot) when I go back and read my old reviews.  It’s amazing how much a person’s tastes can change in eight years.  The first thing I said in that old review was “I don’t think I’ll ever be a Fellini fan.”  Granted, I still loathe Amarcord passionately and there is a lot Fellini I’m not too wild about, but the aforementioned Masina films and 8 1/2 are quite enough to place him among my top 50 directors.  I also said I can’t tolerate the dubbing in Italian movies, whereas now I’ve gotten to the point where I barely notice it.

One thing hasn’t changed, though.  Masina’s “Chaplinesque” performance here irks me.  When she’s not doing that, she’s adorable and heartwarming/heartbreaking, but every time she pulls off one of those massive frowns or some little exaggerated bit of pantomine, I get turned off.  I understand the attachment other viewers might develop for this character, but I don’t like Chaplin and I don’t like other people doing Chaplin.  So that robs the film of a lot of its power for me.  I recognize the sentiment, but rarely get swept up in it.

To put it in numerical terms, I’m bumping my Criticker score up from 72 to 75.  My increased affection for Fellini in general has rubbed off a tad on this film.  But that’s still the same as the “7” I gave it under my old rating system and the “Good” level in my new rating system.  I just don’t feel strongly enough about anything in the movie — despite the memorable Rota score, the often lovely cinematography, and the beautiful ending — to treasure it any more than that.  But I’m glad I gave it another shot, and updated a couple of those out-of-date opinions from 8 years ago.  Maybe I’ll revisit La Dolce Vita next.  Rating: Good


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