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Flixster Reviews (1,767)

  • January 13, 2013
    Italian Movie about a player that in 1960 must have raised eyebrows, I didnt enjoy it 1 star
  • August 3, 2012
    Essential surrealist film, La Dolce Vita is an early critique to press photography, bourgeois society, special attention to stars and social decadence.
  • August 11, 2011
    This doesn't happen very often, but I must say, I'm rather baffled. I'm not sure how I truly feel about this movie. I don't know if I truly get it. I'm a smart guy, and I'd like to think I can 'get' artsy European cinema, but I am simultaneously aware of why this is called a clas... read moresic but also baffled as to why it is so adored.

    The film tells the story of a tabloid photographer in Rome in the 50s who discovers that the high society world isn't all that it seems, that trying to find a balance betwween the relics of the past and the ever-growing ways of the modern world is complicated, and that it can be quite a challenge to discover who one really is amidst all of this. That's pretty much it. That's the plot in it's most simplified way.

    It doesn't take long to really get all of this, but the film is just under three hours. I really don't think it needed to be. However,the film is wall to wall with style and cinematic craft. The film has a neat structure (it takes place over the course of about a weeks worth of days and nights, though not consecutively), and there's all kinds of religious imagery and symbolism-allowing the viewer to either just read into it like there's no tomorrow, or just take it at face value. Normally I'm cool with this sort of thing, but again, the movie is just about 3 hours...and kinda slow at times.

    The film could have had far more substance, especially given the theme and premise, but the slice of life stuff it quite nice too. It just all happens to ramble far too often. Maybe I'm being too hard on this though. Maybe I should have been really exhauted and had my mind on other things when I sat down to watch it. Or maybe (and I'm probably in the minority here) Fellini was more full of crap than people might like to admit. I loved 8 1/2 , but I was in a different mood and mindset when I saw that.

    I do love the music and cinematography though. There's some really gorgeous (and sometiems surreal) images, and some sequences are just fantastic, but it's all just kinda hard to endure in one setting. Ther performances aren't bad, but it seems like Fellini was more interested in just letting everything just run wild instead of having a far tighter hold on things. Maybe the issues Im haivng with this can be attributed to the fact that, as a bunch of critics and scholars have said, this was a transitional film for Fellini between his neo-realistic stuff, and his whimsical art film. It has elements of both, and they are done well, but maybe they just don't blend all that wonderfully.

    I'm rambling, much lke the movie. I didn't hate it, but I found it very hard to endure. Is it a really good movie? Yeah. Is it really all that influential? Sure. Does it deserve all the accolades and respect it gets? To an extent. You should see this, just to say you finally saw it, because it is worth it. As a cohesive masterpiece though, I didn't find it to be that exactly. 4 stars for the film overall, and an extra half star just for the style and technique.
  • August 1, 2011
    A gossip columnist has a raucous time of it in Rome with various starlets and high society types.
    I dreaded seeing this film because I found most of Fellini's other work to be vapid and unimpressive, but La Dolce Vita was not that bad. It's not remarkably inaccessible lik... read moree 8 1/2 or banal like Amaracord, but because it's a Fellini film, I can't be sure if what I got out of the film is similar to what the consensus view is. Here it goes regardless: I see this film as an exploration of hedonism. Marcello's relationship with Emma is grounded but ultimately not fulfilling and in some ways quite destructive; after all, she's introduced in a suicide scene. Marcello's relationships with his the starlets he covers is best summed up in a description of Sylvia: she's a hot mess, flighty, alluring in her unattainable nature - the very nature that makes him want to attain her all the more; she's unpredictable, vital, and very much alive. Yet as Marcello tries to enter this world and be worthy of her and people like her and live "the sweet life," so to speak, he descends into confusing pleasure for happiness and popularity for importance.
    Of course, it's Fellini, so I could be way off base.
    I can't say that I truly enjoyed the film, but because I was able to tease out a theme (the one I just articulated), it intellectually engaged me. The performances are all good, nothing too extraordinary.
    Overall, this is the best Fellini film I've seen so far, but that's not saying much.
  • February 14, 2011
    La Dolce Vita shows how vulgar and how rotten to the core the idea of celebrity, gossip and 'high society' is and it is about as relevant now as it has ever been! Only Fellini could show vulgarity like this as beautifully as this though, each shot is an oil painting that could ha... read moreng in the Louvre (or should that be the Uffizi). It represents the line between his older and newer films, leaving sentimentality behind to an extent and embracing the world of fantasy and existentialism. Not my favourite Fellini film but that's not saying much, it's certainly one of his most stylish films, the 60's in black and white never looked as good as this.
  • November 22, 2010
    This is a classic Italian film from Fellini, and I liked it, but I don't think it's his best film. It has a good cast, but the story could have been better, I think.
  • April 18, 2010
    Certainly a film I have yet to unpack. I just watched it and it has moved me more than most classic pieces. While classic, the message is timeless. Caught between the materialistic comforts of the new world and the "simplicity" of the old, Fellini's protagonist exemplifies the se... read morearch to find oneself in a sea of opposing values. Like I said, there is a lot to unpack. All I know is that it moved me and is one film that I truely feels surpasses the abundant praise it has received. If you have seen it, let me know, because I would love to talk to you about it. Needless to say, my introduction to Fellini was mindblowing.
  • March 28, 2010
    One of the true landmarks in film history (and one of my all-time favorites), La Dolce Vita is a powerful and profound film that is absolutely mesmerizing -- from the now infamous opening scene of a helicopter carrying a statue of Christ flying over Rome's ancient ruins, to the m... read moreetaphorically loaded prehistoric fish washing ashore at the end. Federico Fellini's masterpiece is not only a caustic critique of modern Rome, but it's pertinent to all modern society as well. The corrosion of community, of traditional values, and the crushing consequences of modernization have never been displayed in a more beautifully poignant manner. Indeed, the film seems to be rather prophetic with its cautionary underpinnings, and amazingly, that message is just as relevant today as it was back then. What continues to amaze me is how this film -- a film that essentially is about the "nothingness" and shallow nature of modern man -- can be so meaningful and heartfelt. Our hearts break as our protagonist, Marcello Rubini (a frustrated tabloid journalist who's stuck between the "old world" and the "new world"), tries desperately to find some meaning in his shallow, materialistic existence, and we feel the bittersweet moment where he begrudgingly accepts the life he leads. But rather than wallow in cynicism, Fellini's genius is characterized by a zest for life -- albeit a tragically insatiable one. Coming in at nearly three hours, the film remarkably never feels boring, it's rich in intelligent observation, and it shares some wisdom without being preachy -- exemplifying Fellini's gift for entertaining and amusing. There seems to be a lot films that are labeled "classics" (some deserving, some not), but you'd be hard-pressed to find a lot of films that are more classic, and more important, than La Dolce Vita. An absolute must-see.
  • January 25, 2010
    although certainly styled and beautifully shot like a fellini film, i found this film to be a far cry from some of his other films that i enjoyed far more. rather than a coherent plot the film is 3 hours of random and unconnected moments in marcello's life that are supposed to l... read moreead one to an understanding of his plight for love and the meaning of life, but instead i just felt that his life sort of sputtered along until an anticlimatic ending that brought no closure at all. a beautiful film to look at and ekberg brought some needed charisma to the film, but the story was very unsatisfying for me. the score was almost entirely for the captivating images and wonderful acting.
  • December 26, 2009
    La dolce vita is a sprawling tale of the excess of the upper class of Rome, as seen through the eyes of a journalist in moral crisis. The film is constructed in such a way as to make ample use of symbolism. The film opens with a great shot of a Christ statue being brought to th... read moree pope via helicopter, with the paparazzi following in their own helicopter. The paparazzi stop to talk (in hand gestures) to some bikini-clad, sun bathing girls. Later, Marcello (one of the paparazzi) picks up a young socialite who's being hounded by photographers, and they speed off together in her car. They pick up a prostitute who takes them back to her place, but they wind up locking her out of the room and sleeping together without her. The socialite is also a prostitute, but not for money (as Marcello tells her "you have too much money", she answers "and you haven't enough"). Marcello arrives home in the morning to find his girlfriend has attempted suicide (again). Theirs is a love/hate relationship: Marcello can't stand her maternal clingy-ness and desperate longing for a conventional married life. He's more content to throw himself into the seedy celebrity world of adulation and cheap sexual favors. When a beautiful blonde american starlet (Anita Ekberg) comes to town, she has all the men falling over themselves in adoration, Marcello included. In one scene that seems more a dream sequence, he's chasing her up an impossibly tall staircase that winds itself up a tower. All the other men have dropped off, exhausted from the chase, but Marcello follows her all the way to the end. She's playful and childish, but she belongs to anohter man, and Marcello gets beaten up for his flirtations. There's another interesting scene involving two children who've had a vision of the virgin Mary. The press and the faithfully devoted all flock to the spot where the children had their vision, and while family members bring out their sick and dying for miracle cures, the children make a game of pretend. As the movie progresses, Marcello loses his safety nets and sanctuaries, both to fraud and death, and as this happens, he falls deeper into the well of debauchery. The wealthy socialites go from being merely crass and immoral, to being the virtual dead, or even worse, animals with no sense of right and wrong. By the end, Marcello all but loses whatever hold he had on his humanity, lashing out at some wide-eyed wannabe rube starlet, all but tarring and feathering her. The movie ends as it began, with a conversation being attempted with hand gestures, only this time the meaning is completely lost on Marcello. La dolce vita is a complex and expertly woven piece of storytelling, and one that may require more than on viewing to fully appreciate.

Critic Reviews

Stanley Kauffmann
May 1, 2013
Stanley Kauffmann, The New Republic

Fellini has set out to move us with the depravity of contemporary life and has chosen what seems to me a poor method: cataloging sins. Very soon we find ourselves thinking: Is that all? Full Review

David Fear
June 1, 2011
David Fear, Time Out New York

Everything has changed, and nothing has changed. How sour it still is. Full Review

May 8, 2007

Perhaps many spectators will squirm at the three-hour length of the film or of some of its sequences (though director Federico Fellini cut some 30 minutes from his final print), yet others will never ... Full Review

Dave Kehr
May 8, 2007
Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader

The film was hugely successful and widely praised in its time, though it's really nothing more than the old C.B. De Mille formula of titillation and moralizing. Full Review

January 26, 2006
Time Out

There are perhaps a couple of party scenes too many, and the peripheral characters can be unconvincing, but the stylish cinematography and Fellini's bizarre, extravagant visuals are absolutely riveting. Full Review

Richard Nilsen
December 27, 2004
Richard Nilsen, Arizona Republic

[An] epic of anomie. Full Review

Douglas Pratt
December 27, 2004
Douglas Pratt, Hollywood Reporter

Everyone has a favorite scene.

Lisa Kennedy
December 24, 2004
Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post

Marcello's journey is a string of remarkable vignettes that delivers fashion and sociology in equal measure. Full Review

Chris Vognar
December 2, 2004
Chris Vognar, Dallas Morning News

It comes from a period in which the filmmaker was perched between neorealism and all-out fantasia. As such, it represents the best of two worlds, even as Marcello can't find contentment in either one. Full Review

Roger Moore
October 15, 2004
Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel

It's a comic, cutting and prophetic poem to Rome, movie stars, gossip and the lifestyles we have hungered to know more about ever since the first 'celebrity.' Full Review

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    • Sylvia: Marcello, come here!
    • Steiner: Sometimes at night the darkness and silence weigh upon me. Peace frightens me; perhaps I fear it most of all. I feel it is only a façade hiding the face of hell. I think, 'What is in store for my children tomorrow?' 'The world will be wonderful', they say. But from whose viewpoint? If one phone call could announce the end of everything? We need to live in a state of suspended animation like a work of art, in a state of enchantment. We have to succeed in loving so greatly that we live outside of time, detached.

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La Dolce Vita Trivia

  • In what classic Fellini film did Anna Ekberg saunter in a Rome fountain?  Answer »
  • In 'Lost in Translation', which black & white film are Bob and Charlotte watching whilst drinking wine in Bob's room?  Answer »
  • What director links the movies "Amarcord", "The Nights of Cabiria", "La Dolce Vita", and "8½"?  Answer »
  • Which film features the classic scene where Swedish actress Anita Ekberg is being drenched in Rome's Trevi Fountain?  Answer »

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