Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

aka - Notti Bianche, Le
Italy/France 1957
Directed by
Luchino Visconti
107 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

White Nights (1957)

Based on a story by Dostoevsky, Visconti's film stars Marcello Mastroianni as the lonely young man who falls immediately in love with a young woman (Maria Schell) whom he meets on a bridge in the Venice district of Livorno in Tuscany. She in turn is waiting for her lover (Jean Marais) who she has not seen for a year but who has promised to meet her on that bridge.  These two lovelorn people find a commonality in their respective longings as they struggle to resolve their respective emotional yearning.

Filmed entirely on a complex Cinecittà soundstage with an evocatively simple score by Nina Rota and captivating black and white photography by Giuseppe Rotunno, Visconti brings a theatricalized tone to the proceedings, only reverting to a realistic style with the depictions the young man's lodgings (as well as with an extended sequence with a group of beatnik types dancing out of sync to a recording of Bill Haley's Thirteen Women!). Perhaps the idea was to essentialize or abstract those aspects that deal with the searchings of the human heart for true love but the outcome on screen simply seems unduly suspended with Mastroianni's character seeming more simply desperate for physical contact with a woman than convincing as a man struck by a coupe de foudre. Schell's and Marais' relationship also has nothing particularly convincing about it and indeed one begins, particularly once the flashbacks begin, to wonder if somehow the events are going to turn out to be part of a dream instead of what it turns out to be  - a melancholy portrayal of male longing.

FYI: "Notti bianci" are sleepless nights in Italian.





Want something different?

random vintage best worst