La Dolce Vita


With La Dolce Vita, Fellini unleashed one of the most influential and acclaimed art films of the 1960s, an extravagantly boisterous travelogue through an ultra-modern, ultra-sophisticated, ultra-decadent Rome on the verge of collapse. Both a commercial and critical triumph, La Dolce Vita heralded a new decade of cinematic freedom, and how better to open the free-wheeling 1960s than with this alternately funny, feral, sweet and seductive meditation on what is truly meaningful (if anything) for the dusk-to-dawn Italian jet set? Suave leading man Marcello Mastroianni was catapulted to superstardom as the sensitive tabloid journalist Marcello Rubini, who, having left his dreary provincial existence behind, wanders through the fabulous, but spirit-destroying, nightlife of the Via Veneto. Marcello yearns to write seriously, but his inconsequential newspaper pieces bring in more money, and he’s too lazy to argue with this setup. Juggling the affections of several women (voluptuous movie star Anita Eckberg, icy mistress Anouk Aimee and neurotic girlfriend Magali Noel), he plunges ever deeper into a glittering existential funk. Throughout his adventures, Marcello’s dreams, fantasies, and nightmares are mirrored by the seductive hedonism swirling around him. The hallucinatory, circus-like atmosphere of La Dolce Vita forever cemented the adjective “Fellini-esque” in popular culture, deftly trading on the idea of Rome as a hotbed of sex and decadence. Filled with unforgettable images (Mastroianni’s romp with Ekberg in the Trevi Fountain at dawn remains one of the most timeless, memorable images ever to emerge from world cinema), La Dolce Vita is essential cinema of the most delicious variety. (Dir. Federico Fellini, 1960, Italy, in Italian with subtitles, 174 mins., Not Rated) Digital