Sunday, 14 March 2010

I Vitelloni

Synopsis: Postwar Italian rites of passage film from Federico Fellini. We follow five friends as they wander aimlessly through several events in a seaside town. The story centres mainly around the philandering of one of the gang, Fausto. We watch as he tries to escape responsibility and how this affects the rest of the group and his wife, Sandra.

The film begins with an introduction to a group of five male friends in an Italian seaside town in winter. They are all attending a local beauty contest. We watch as one of the young men (Fausto) chats up a woman and is rejected. Soon after we discover that his girlfriend, who has won the contest, is pregnant with his child. A thunderstorm rolls in and puts an end to the evening's festivities.

This is the cue/setup for the rest of the film's action, as Fausto attempts to escape the responsibility of being a husband/father. Even when he accepts these roles, he continues his philandering and mistreatment of his wife.

As we watch his continuing immoral actions, we also see the effect that this has on his wife's brother and another one of the group, Moraldo (played by the beautiful Franco Interlenghi). Moraldo provides the thoughtful, moral centre of the film. He stands by and watches as Fausto disrespects his sister time and time again with other women. At two points in the film he even acts as an apologist for Fausto's actions.

However, it is Moraldo who is the one finally to leave this laddish lifestyle and the town at the end of the film.

The climax of the film shows Fausto's wife disappear with their baby. Fausto's frantic search for them (along with his friends) brings his bad behaviour to the fore, with Moraldo finally realising the consequences of his friend's actions. As Fausto is searching for Sandra at the beach, he encounters a woman that he tried to pick up whilst with his wife at the cinema. His aggressive hounding of her is constrasted in this scene as she propositions him. Fausto rejects her as he is looking for his wife and child, and we see possibly a changed man, one whose focus is now where it should have been all along.

(Interestingly, I've also been watching the U.S. TV series Six Feet Under recently and this part of the story is replayed in the 3rd season, with the lead character Nate Fisher, desperately searching for his lost wife at the beach and regretting how he had previously taken her for granted.)

Sandra and baby are eventually found safe and well with Fausto's father, who proceeds to give Fausto a good belting, highlighting Fausto's position as a child himself, still needing a parent to reinforce moral boundaries and make him be a man.

See also: Six Feet Under (3rd season), Diner,

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