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A Special Day

Posted by martinteller on February 21, 2016

All of Rome is out on the streets for a parade celebrating the arrival of Adolf Hitler. All except Antonietta (Sophia Loren), whose housework prevents her from it. When the family myna bird escapes out the window, she discovers that another tenant in the building is also staying home that day: eccentric radio announcer Gabriele (Marcello Mastroianni). And so two lonely strangers develop a bond and reveal themselves.

Ettore Scola passed away just one month ago. My only previous experience with him as a director was the magnificent We All Loved Each Other So Much, which is playful and often heartwarming. This is a more somber affair, especially against the background of rampant fascism. Throughout the film, we hear the radio rhapsodizing about the Fuhrer and Il Duce and the display of power. The cinematography by Pasqualino De Santis appears sepia-toned at first, but you soon realize that the color has simply been desaturated to the point that only the red of the Nazi flag stands out.

The performances by Loren and Mastroianni are quite good, ad one would expect from such talents. Unfortunately to me it lacked a ring of truth. This type of instant connection is very popular in film (far less common, though not unheard of, in real life). Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. To me, this one didn’t. I can make an objective rationalization for it that applies to these characters, but still it feels too convenient to me. I felt like there needed to be some additional something to make these two open up to each other.

Nonetheless, it’s a sensitive and engaging in film, even if I didn’t entirely connect with it. De Santis’s camera prowls around wonderfully, for example in Loren’s introduction when the camera comes in through the window (perhaps inspired by Antonioni’s The Passenger a couple of years earlier). When the shot is repeated at the end of the film, it has added weight and significance, and seems more invasive than inviting. Rating: Good (77)


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