Monday, June 04, 2018
Written and directed by Ermanno Olmi, I fidanzati (The Fiancés) is the story of an engaged couple whose relationship is tested when the man travels to Sicily for work as he copes with the sense of longing as well as his new environment. The film is an exploration of loneliness and long-distance relationships where a couple deal with themselves and their love for each other. Starring Carlo Cabrini and Anna Canzi. I fidanzati is a rapturous and gorgeous film from Ermanno Olmi.
The film is this simple story of a long-distance relationship between a man and woman whose life is changed when the man has to travel to Sicily from Milan to take a job that would last 18 months. It’s a film with a simple premise as it is largely told from the perspective of Giovanni (Carlo Cabrini) who is in Sicily to work in building a building as it’s a job that he had to fight for. Ermanno Olmi’s screenplay does have bits of flashbacks in the film though it begins at a dancehall where Giovanni and Liliana (Anna Canzi) are at attendance yet Liliana is reluctant to dance as it is clear that she’s not happy about Giovanni having to go to Sicily for his new job. Much of the story takes place in Sicily where Giovanni tries to find a place to live as well as get to know the environment where there is this clash of the emergence of modernism against the ideas of the old ways. For Giovanni, he’s stuck in the middle as he thinks of his father and of Liliana as he hopes this job he will take will give the two a future that is needed.
Olmi’s direction opens with the dancehall scene where it is presented in a wide shot with no dialogue as it is this scene where many middle-aged and elderly couples are waiting for the party to start. It’s a scene that happens in the span of minutes until the music arrives and everyone with the exception of Giovanni and Liliana are dancing as they’re just watching and debating whether they should dance or not. Shot on location in Sicily with additional shots in Milan, the film does play into this clash of post-war modern Italy in its emergence against the idea of rural Italy with its farms and old men fixing a windmill the old way. Olmi would include medium shots and close-ups to play into Giovanni’s sense of isolation in his new environment as well as the sense of longing he and Liliana have toward each other.
There is still an air of excitement and tradition in a major scene where many people are dancing with women wearing masks as it is this brief moment of joy for Giovanni as it is shot in wide and medium shots to get a scope of the town. Olmi would also play up this isolation in Giovanni during the third act in this sequence of montages that has him corresponding with Liliana as it would include bits of flashbacks of their love life for its third act. It play into Giovanni’s motivation to wanting to give Liliana a good life but also the sacrifices he must make in a world that is ever-changing. Overall, Olmi crafts a mesmerizing and somber film about an engaged couple dealing with being part of a long-distance relationship in Italy.
Cinematographer Lamberto Caimi does brilliant work with the film’s black-and-white photography as it play into this mixture of modern Italy mixed in with rural Sicilian life to contrast the two worlds with a sense of naturalism into the many locations of the film. Editor Carla Colombo does excellent work with the editing as she uses some jump-cuts as well as stylish montages to play into the sense of longing from Giovanni towards Liliana. Art director Ettore Lombardi and set decorator Antonio Visone do terrific work with the look of the places and hotels that Giovanni would stay at in Sicily as well as the dancehall at the film’s opening scene. The sound work of Guido Nardone is superb for its natural approach of how sparse things sound in the opening sequence as well as the raucous atmosphere of the big town party. The film’s music by Gianni Ferrio is wonderful for its somber score as it mixes traditional Italian string music with elements of rock n’ roll and pop into the film’s music soundtrack.
The incredible performances of Carlo Cabrini and Anna Canzi in their respective roles as Giovanni and Liliana is a highlight of the film. Canzi’s performance as Liliana is understated to play into her frustrations and sense of longing for Giovanni while Cabrini provides that sense of confusion and sadness into his role as Giovanni in the way he deals with his surroundings and the job that he has to do.
I fidanzati is a sensational film from Ermanno Olmi. Featuring great performances from Carlo Cabrini and Anna Canzi along with gorgeous cinematography and commentary on long-distance relationships in a modern world. It’s a film that play into the idea of sacrifices and loneliness in the expectations set upon in post-war Italy. In the end, I fidanzati is a phenomenal film from Ermanno Olmi.
Ermanno Olmi Films: Il Posto - (A Man Named John) – The Tree of Wooden Clogs - (Walking, Walking) – (The Legend of the Holy Drinker) – (The Secret of the Old Woods) – (Genesis: The Creation and the Flood) – (The Profession of Arms) – (Singing Behind Screens) – (Tickets-Section 1) – (One Hundred Nails) – (The Cardboard Village) – (Greenery Will Bloom Again)
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