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Film / L'Avventura

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L’avventura is a 1960 film by director Michelangelo Antonioni.

Two friends, Anna and Claudia (played by Monica Vitti), meet with Anna's boyfriend Sandro and go with other friends on a trip to a rocky island. While they are there, Anna disappears without a trace. The others start looking for her, but with exception of Claudia and Sandro, they show no particular interest in the result of the searches...

If you saw any other movie, its plot would deal with Anna's disappearance and the effects it had on the characters. If that's what you're looking for, don't even bother with this movie.

Halfway through the movie, Anna is completely forgotten by everyone, including her friend and her boyfriend, and is only mentioned once in a while, in case you don't remember how the film began. The movie deals mainly with Sandro and Claudia's relationship (avventura, beside an adventure, means a fling in English.)

So... The movie has almost no plot. Yeah. That means it's not for everyone. The movie replaces plot with the beautiful sceneries, interesting Character Development and of course, playing with the viewers' expectations.

As an aside note, the movie had one noticeable instance of Vindicated by History: When it was released, the public found it so slow and boring that they booed it in Cannes. It was after a second screening, and a bunch of essays written by critics defending the movie, when they started to admire it more.

L'avventura is the first installment in Antonioni's trilogy of alienation that includes La notte (The Night, 1961) and L'eclisse (The Eclipse, 1962), all made in B&W. Sometimes Il deserto rosso (The Red Desert, 1964) is included in this unofficial series making it a tetralogy, despite being in color and not having a One-Word Title. These films are made in a similar manner characteristic of the "slow cinema". They research the condition of the contemporary middle-class educated Europeans, though L'avventura in particular concentrates on the upper-middle class. Monica Vitti stars in all of them, playing main characters in three films and a tritagonist in La notte.

About Elly by Asghar Farhadi was clearly influenced by this film while not qualifying for a remake.

This movie provides examples of:

  • Adventure: Subverted. The movie has nothing to do with this particular genre.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Both Anna and later Claudia are attracted to Sandro. Also the young artist qualifies for a bad boy what with his painting of exclusively nude women.
  • As You Know: The first dialogue of the film between Anna and her father is this. The father even lampshades it telling her "you know", later explaining what.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: In the scene where Claudia walks on the street of the Sicilian town alone the males gather in numbers and silently watch her. They don't make any aggressive advances however and then Sandro joins her.
  • Betty and Veronica:
    • Anna, the brunette, is Veronica. She is clearly edgier than the sweet and tender Claudia, the blonde, who is Betty.
    • Gloria Perkins in the final part of the movie serves a Veronica for Claudia's Betty, reinforced by the fact that she too has dark hair.
  • Broken Bird:
    • Anna in the beginning of the film to an extent. She refuses to dicuss with her father that Sandro is not going to marry her.
    • Subverted by Claudia in the end when she learns of Sandro's infidelity. While he breaks into tears she has the strength to forgive him.
    • Also subverted by Giulia responding to the constant attempts of her husband to put her down with adultery.
  • Big "NO!": Claudia sings 'NO, no, non ti lascero' (meaning "No, no, I won't leave you") to Sandro making a stress on the first NO. She indeed doesn't leave him in the end when he betrays her with a girl of easy virtue.
  • Captain Obvious: Claudia exits the room and stands in the corridor, Giulia faces her from the room, the doorway is between them. Giulia asks what she should do to remain alone with Goffredo the artist who passionately lusts after her. Claudia replies that it is enough to close the door.
    Giulia: Now what do I have to do to be left in peace?
    Claudia: I think all you have to do, Giulia, is to close the door.
  • Clothing Switch: Claudia puts on a blouse belonging to Anna.
  • Crying Wolf: While swimming, Anna starts to cry that a shark is near. Then when everyone is back on board the shark is nowhere to be seen. Most likely she was reproducing this trope in a craving for attention. After her disappearance, other characters make suggestions about her motives.
  • The Cynic: Sandro. When Claudia notes to him that he appears to be another person he replies that is only for good because it would make a new adventure.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Claudia confesses that in her childhood she did not have enough money.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Almost every secondary character in the movie, Claudia is not, curiously Sandro is also not the best example of that. Sandro might be evil at times but he doesn't often make snarky remarks. Patrizia and Raimondo as well as Corrado are frequently this. Also a drugstore assistant and his wife.
    • Corrado talking about Giulia even quotes Oscar Wilde, one of the most acclaimed deadpan snarkers.
      Corrado: Giulia is like Oscar Wilde; give her the superfluous and she will do without the essential.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Played with. In the runtime preceeding Anna's disappearance, both Anna and Claudia receive a fair share of the screen time. Anna still is the main character of that part and the interest in her drama is reinforced in her final scene with Sandro before she goes missing.
  • Deserted Island:
    • Lisca Bianca where Anna went missing. It is populated by a solitary old man who lives in a hut.
    • Also Basiluzzo which is mentioned when a boat passes near this one. It is uninhabited.
  • Determinator Sandro in his relation to Claudia until he conquers her. Much less afterwards. He also averts the trope in his relationship with Anna, which has been going on for a while at the beginning of the film.
  • Double-Meaning Title: The title alludes to both an adventure (perhaps ironically) and a fling (which is more precise).
  • Dull Surprise:
    • Raimondo is unconcerned when he drops the ancient vase so that it breaks.
    • When Raimondo touches Patrizia's breast, she only asks coldly whether he is disappointed with what he feels there.
    • Claudia reacts apathetically when Giulia and Goffredo passionally make out in front of her.
  • Easily Forgiven: Played with. While Claudia makes the forgiving gesture in the very ending very soon after she sees him making out with Gloria Perkins, it is implied that Sandro is visibly shocked after she discovers his infidelity. A debatable case as in description it appears that Sandro is easily forgiven but it does not read like that in the movie.
  • Endearingly Dorky: Goffredo acts awkward and clumsy. However he is adorable enough to get a girl.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Old Man on the Island is credited in this way. Might be due to Values Dissonance because in a movie dedicated to upper-class characters, a poor islander couldn't receive a name.
  • Everyone Looks Sexier if French: Claudia is taken for a Frenchwoman in the conservative Italian south.
  • First Kiss: Between Claudia and Sandro. It happens too soon after the disappearance of Anna.
  • Foreshadowing: Claudia in the hotel room sings 'NO, no, non ti lascero' (meaning "No, no, I won't leave you"). In the end she forgives Sandro and indeed stays with him.
  • Ghost Town: Claudia and Sandro visit one of those during their searches for Anna. They discover it is abandoned some time after they arrive. It works as an aphrodisiac because they have sex immediately after leaving the town in the grass near the railway.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: Claudia appears to be the most sympathetic character. However, at one point she confesses that while previously she wanted to find Anna, and was horrified that she would not be found, now she is horrified that Anna would be found. Other characters are visibly more cynical. Some of them even suppose that Sandro might have knocked off Anna.
  • Humans Are Diplomats: Subverted by Anna's father who also lampshades this subversion. He says that he was a career diplomat for so many years that he was obliged to never say what he really thought, but now this obligation no longer exists.
  • Jerkass: Sandro is one of epic proportions. At one point he destroys a technical drawing an architecture student made.
  • Leave Me Alone!: Giulia asks Claudia to quit after she is convinced that Goffredo prefers her to her ostensibly prettier friend.
  • Likes Older Women: Goffredo insistently tries to seduce Giulia. He succeeds.
  • Literalist Snarking: When Anna says that she does not feel Sandro any more, he asks whether she did not feel him the previous day at his home. Anna is indignant.
  • Little Black Dress:
    • Claudia sports it during her stay at Corrado's Villa Montaldo in Palermo.
    • Also Gloria Perkins in the party when she seduces Sandro.
  • Love Hurts: Claudia learns this almost immediately after falling in love with Sandro.
  • Maybe Ever After: It is unclear whether Claudia and Sandro will go on with their romance.
  • Mistaken Nationality: People in the small south Italian town think that Claudia is French because she looks too modern and elegant for their tastes.
  • Mockstery Tale: The movie centers around the disappearance of a young woman, but the said disappearance is never resolved, and the real focus of the plot is the relationship between two other characters.
  • Mood Whiplash Claudia makes a dance singing a song full of passion for Sandro in an hotel. He already looks bored.
  • MST: At its infamous showing in Cannes, the scene of Claudia running down a corridor prompted shouts of "Cut" on part of the audience.
  • Never Found the Body: You never see Anna again, alive or dead. Word of God says that they shot the scene where the body of Anna was found in the water. However it was excluded for timing reasons.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailer of the film makes it appear to be some sort of sexy, breeze romantic comedy. Certainly not what you're gonna find here.
  • Non-Idle Rich: An interesting subversion of the widespread stereotype of the film. While on the trip many characters might appear bored and stricken by the upper-class ennui in regular life some of them actually work.
    • Sandro might have sold out and given up his high artistic dreams but his boss recognizes that he cannot do without his calculations. His work makes him rich, he confesses to own several apartments but it resulted from work, catering to the preferences of the tasteless bourgeois. Which pays.
    • Corrado is implied to be an official who is present at various conferences where he is unable to give up snarking.
    • Goffredo doesn't have much time to idle around because he produces numerous nude paintings.
    • In the case of Patrizia it is her husband, Ettore, who earns the money. He is the chief of Sandro the architect.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: After Anna vanishes, the mood of this film irreversibly shifts. Zigzagged because some of her friends are indifferent to her disappearance and for them everything remains the same.
  • Official Couple: Claudia and Sandro become this much too soon. Invoked by Patrizia after Claudia arrives at the party.
  • One-Word Title
  • Only in It for the Money: Sandro stays at his current job solely due to this reason. It does not satisfy his creative urges.
  • Only One Name:
    • Every character has only a name in the credits; no surnames are mentioned with the exception of Anna's father, who is only referred to as such.
    • Subverted in the sole case of Gloria Perkins, an aspiring actress who arrived from the USA. That proves to be a bad sign as she seduces Sandro.
  • Passive-Aggressive Kombat:
    • What goes on between Patrizia and Raimondo who are together on the trip but are not lovers.
    • Also Giulia and Corrado revel in this trope.
  • Please, Don't Leave Me: Giulia says exactly this to Claudia when Giulia is going to the room of the young artist passionately in love with her. Claudia only reluctantly agrees. Soon after they arrive at the room Giulia says Leave Me Alone! as the passion of the artist ignites her too.
  • Pretty in Mink: Gloria Perkins wears a Little Black Dress and a fur garment slung around her arm at the party. It reinforces that she is The Vamp.
  • Priceless Ming Vase: An ancient vase is found on the island during the searche for Anna. Party members pass it to one another until Raimondo drops it, with predictable consequences, then reacts with Dull Surprise.
  • Prince Charming: Goffredo the painter actually possesses a title of prince. Also he charms Giulia.
  • Red Herring:
    • The police interrogation of the smugglers does not lead anywhere. They quite probably indeed smuggle the goods into Italy on their boats but have nothing to do with Anna's disappearance.
    • Sandro meets several people who tell him about a girl who might be the missing Anna. Later all this is dropped..
  • Reveal Shot: In Noto, Claudia is shown in the close shot on the street under the stairs. A cut to the wider shot reveals that half a dozen men are watching her both on the same level and from the stairs. Then a further pan reveals that a whole crowd is observing her. A dialogue reveals that she is taken for French.
  • Rich Boredom: Many characters here are indeed rich (or, at least, affluent) and bored, also boring to one another.
  • Scenery Porn: Many landscapes, both natural and urban.
  • Seduction-Proof Marriage: That of Patrizia and Ettore as the wife is too bored and lacking in desire to commit adultery.
  • Sellout: Sandro is the one which he himself admits. He cherished original ideas but now caters to bourgeois clients with their corny tastes.
  • Sleeping Single: Patrizia and Ettore sleep not only in different beds but also in different rooms.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism:
    • Most characters are firmly on the cynical end of the scale.
    • Zigzagged with Claudia who also sees this trend towards the cynical in herself and is very much ashamed of that. She tries to improve her ways with mixed results.
  • Socialite: Gloria Perkins implies that she is one though it is hinted that she is something else.
  • Title Drop: Sandro to Claudia when she reproaches him that he now seems to be an entirely different person than before to her. He answers that it is for the better because that makes for a new adventure.
    Sandro: And aren't you pleased?... That way you'll have a new kind of adventure.
  • Trope Codifier: For the big-style long(ish) arthouse film. It was proclaimed the second best film of all time by critics two years after its release.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: It emerges between Claudia and Sandro after Anna disappears while they search for her or simply aimlessly roam the island. It is resolved VERY soon by their kiss.
  • Visible Boom Mic: A reflection of a crew member can be seen in the end of the first scene on the back surface of the car which drives away Anna and Claudia.
  • Wardrobe Malfunction: A rip in the skirt of Gloria Perkins.
  • When I Was Your Age...: Sandro mentions this to a student whose architectural drawing he has just deliberately destroyed by spilling an inkpot all over it. When the student comes up to him, Sandro asks his age and when the student replies "23" Sandro says that at that age he fought so many times the student would not even think about it. The scene ends peacefully.