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Marcello Mastroianni, Jeanne Moreau, Monica Vitti, Bernhard Wicki, Maria Pia Luzi ... see more see more... , Rosy Mazzacurati , Vincenzo Corbella , Ugo Fortunati , Gitt Magrini , Guido A. Marsan , Giorgio Negro , Roberta Speroni

La Notte is another of Michelangelo Antonioni's cinematic interrupted journeys. Just as no one solved the central mystery in Antonioni's L'Avventura, neither does anyone truly enjoy the literary party... read more read more... that is La Notte's centerpiece. The party is being thrown to celebrate the publication of author Marcello Mastrioanni's new novel. But before he even reaches the door of the house, Mastrioanni's evening is ruined when his wife Jeanne Moreau announces suddenly she is disgusted with him--this reaction evidently triggered by an earlier visit to a dying friend. Moreau skips out on the party to wander the streets, searching for...for what? Meanwhile, Mastrioanni tries to inaugurate an empty affair with Monica Vitti, the daughter of a wealthy industrialist. The very elements that drive Mastrioanni and Moreau apart at the beginning of the film reunite them at the end. Maybe. L'Avventura and La Notte were the first two chapters in Antonioni's "barreness and alienation" trilogy; the third, L'Eclisse, was released two years later. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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91% liked it

5,262 ratings


76% liked it

17 critics

Unrated, 2 hr. 2 min.

Directed by: Michelangelo Antonioni

Release Date: January 1, 1961

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DVD Release Date: May 8, 2001

Stats: 280 reviews

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Flixster Reviews (280)

  • November 23, 2010
    Mastroianni plays an author who is having problems with his wife, but they have to go to this party, will they solve their differences tonight or will they break up? This is a very interesting movie, it has a familiar theme, but the style is very unique and this movie is very in... read moretense, I liked it.
  • May 10, 2009
    I have a privilege. Usually, the objection against Michelangelo Antonioni's work is that it's boring, or too slow, or just plain not entertaining. This criteria is what I cannnot identify with. I find Antonioni fascinating. Two or three hous can pass without my mind wandering awa... read morey. In fact, I tend to get the urge to see each film twice (Blow-Up is the only one of his works that I have not loved).

    La Notte, like L'Eclisse, is contemplative and metaphorical. It is about a stable couple falling victim of habit, therefore becoming bored with each other. However, it is a much more optimistic film than Eclisse.

    Giovanni and Lidia are a married couple. He is a decently well-known writer and she is also some kind of intellectual. I was under the impression that they might have found each other stimulating and understanding in the past, but that they've presently fallen in a rut. The sickness and possible death of a close friend triggers a re-evaluation of the things that keep them together, of where they are going, and what they need.

    They are bored, and out of touch with each other and their desires. They're bound by a false sense of responsibility. Their relationship is a farse, because they're simply too bored and too lazy to revitalize it, but continue to cling to it, sending each other subtle hints of their deception. So the first half of the film transcurs, in quiet alienation.

    The second half of La Notte takes place, all in all, in a party at a friend's villa. It is an elegant, decadent party, full of people with potential and ideas, but who are too comfortable in their space to step out and do something actually relevant. It's a party of outspoken intellectuals and their spouses having conversations about money and principles; music, dancing, thinly veiled libertinage. It's a fascinating, thorough exploration of a contained environment, the rawness of which seeps through gestures and indiscretions.

    During this evening Giovanni and Lidia progressively drift apart, looking for temporary diversions. This search yields interesting, but ultimately pointless results. For example, Giovanni encounters Valentina, a beautiful and also bored young girl. He considers her. He flirts with the idea of her as a novelty more than with her, really. "You need a girl to start over", she says. Lidia has a similar but equally simplistic escapade. The night goes on. Antonioni's rhythm is gorgeous, hypnotic, smooth.

    Every scene in La Notte has a cadence and a flow that is entirely the director's. The episodes seem natural and yet otherworldly, suspended in time and terribly important. The irony at the end is that nothing really mattered. Perhaps that's the lesson.

    Needless to say, the cinematography and the composition are fantastic. It's a pleasure to just look at them. I loved how two people were often onscreen and yet no one was onscreen really, because they weren't looking up or we can only see their hands and legs. The alienation theme permeates the entire film.

    Jeanne Moreau gives Lidia a comforting humanity. Her character is, by itself, so incomprehensible for the most part, so difficult to decipher, and yet she makes it undeniably realistic. Mastroianni plays, as he often did, an anti-hero, an insecure and self-obsessed man -only that, in La Notte, he figures out a way to redeem himself before the film ends.

    The entire film is worth the torrid ending that, quite honestly, burns like fire after almost two hours of quiet and cool.

    Why is Antonioni still relevant? I think I might have figured the anwer to that question for me. Just as there is hardly a moment of silence in our daily life, there is hardly silence in cinema anymore. Precisely because we're accustomed to dynamism and noise, silence and slowness doesn't sell. However, introspection is necessary, and it's better in silence, and Antonioni builds an appropriate mood for it.
    Perhaps world cinema needs more silence more often.
  • April 18, 2008
    this is a beautifully shot film. the framing alone artistically supports the separateness felt by this couple.
  • March 26, 2007
    Lidia (reading): When I awoke this morning, you were still asleep. As I awoke, I heard your gentle breathing. I saw your closed eyes beneath wisps of stray hair, and I was deeply moved. I wanted to cry out, to wake you, but you slept so deeply, so soundly. In the half light ... read moreyour skin glowed with life, so warm and sweet, I wanted to kiss it, but I was afraid to wake you. I was afraid of you awake in my arms again. Instead I wanted something no one could take from me, mine alone, this eternal image of you. Beyond your face I saw a pure, beautiful vision, showing us in the perspective of my whole life, all the years to come, even all the years passed. That was the most miraculous thing: to feel, for the first time, that you had always been mine, that this night would go on forever, united with your warmth, your thought, your will. At that moment I realized how much I loved you, Lidia. I wept with the intensity of the emotion, for I felt that this must never end. We would remain like this all our lives, not only close, but belonging to each other in a way that nothing could ever destroy, except the apathy of habit, the only threat. Then you wakened and, smiling, put your arms around me, kissed me, and I felt there was nothing to fear. We would always be as we were at that moment, bound by stronger ties than time and habit.

    Giovanni: Who wrote that?

    Lidia: You did.

    The night does end, both literally and figuratively. The writer who wrote with such passion of his love, at some time somehwere in the past, has become, like his wife and his marriage, a victim of time and habit, and can no longer recognize his own words of passion.

    I really don't think this is an indication of the times so much as it is a sadly timeless story about the course of love in some marriages destined to dissolve because of the "apathy of habit."

  • fb1142797643
    February 27, 2010
    When a film *opens* with a hospital visit to a dying friend, you already know this won't be a high-energy plot. But if you were expecting one, you probably rented an Antonioni DVD by mistake.

    Ubiquitous '60s stars Marcello Mastroianni, Jeanne Moreau and Monica Vitti star in this... read more extended look at a couple enduring a joyless, all-night party. Mastroianni is a famous author, and Moreau is his alienated wife. They ambivalently decide to go out because it's boring to stay at home, but soon realize the party isn't much better. They courteously meander around the grounds of an elegant estate, usually apart, and both consider affairs (enter the younger Vitti). The film's slow pace and shortage of story will irritate many viewers, but there's something inexplicably magnetic about the characters' long silences and aimless wanderings.
  • fb721890245
    March 11, 2014
    La Notte is like a dream state with a married couple wandering through their emotions through the events of one particular evening which leaves them in a bitter embrace. Masterful.
  • July 6, 2010
    La Notte manages to live up to the high standard established by its thematic predecessor, which in itself is a huge achievement. It also succeeds perfectly on its own terms. Acutely exploring difficult themes, it manages to stray away from sensationalism and bluntness altogether.... read more As a film that explores intimate themes between characters and internal struggles, it has a wonderful sense of distance that works to instill a unique atmosphere. This is often a specifically visual experience, but the imagery never takes precedence over the people occupying the story. This is impossible for a young filmgoer like myself to do justice to in a short review. See it for yourself.
  • September 6, 2010
    This Antonioni film has caught my attention first when I've recalled how a pointless recommendation to this film was made by "Life of Brian". Then again, reading from a book(from what I remember, "Christianity in Movies" or something along that title), how "impenetrable" this fil... read morem is. So indeed I gave the film a try, and as I have expected, it's a slow-moving film but never plods(at least in my view), as it was created not for audiences to anticipate every plot developments, but to be attached into it, to be an observer hovering around the apathetic streets of Milan, an eavesdropper looking in into private social parties, and more importantly, a poor fellow watching over a marriage unaware of its decay. Marcello Mastroianni and Jeanne Moreau captures with their facial expressions, the ennui of an unhappy companionship, walking around, greeting and smiling to people, but never to each other. Maybe it's just me, but I can imagine "La Notte" to be a very potent companion piece to Fellini's "La Dolce Vita", not just the idea of having the same lead, but also the very core which both films unusually share. Both dealt with a writer not knowing much of what to do but to divulge into senseless parties, which vividly, ironically depicts the imperfections of the so-called "perfect life". Yes, "La Notte's" center is a failing marriage, and "La Dolce Vita" about one's existential anxiety, but the similarities between the two films are just worth mentioning, especially both being directed by two uncontested masters of the craft. As much as "La Notte" may look very complex on the surface, Antonioni may have one simple, provocative theme to send through: That the only thing worse than a bitter separation is a marriage pretty much civil in its exterior, but with hidden, deep wounds left to rot within.
  • August 26, 2009
    Cinema of shadows and silences and wits and stares.Antonioni reveals the most unbearable feelings of a "loving" couple and smashes the counter-culture of the upper-class.Mastroianni and Moreau are sizzling,but what of the true meaning behind all this?Reuinion through loneliness?T... read moreoo easy...
  • December 22, 2013
    The middle part of Antonioni's alienation trilogy (or tetralogy if you include Red Desert) is the most accessible one IMO. Impeccably framed black and white shots of Moreau against cold architectural features, or the occasional broken clock or cat staring at a statue's head, La N... read moreotte manages to perfectly evoke a sense of melancholy and lost passion and humanity amidst the bored Milanese bourgeois.

Critic Reviews

January 26, 2006
Time Out

It's impossible to discern the relevance of this kind of film-making, which is doubtless why nobody (including Antonioni) practises it any more. Full Review

Bosley Crowther
May 9, 2005
Bosley Crowther, New York Times

Too sensitive and subtle for apt description are his pictorial fashionings of a social atmosphere, a rarefied intellectual climate, a psychologically stultifying milieu...Even boredom is made interest... Full Review

Jonathan Rosenbaum
April 20, 2001
Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader

Whatever one's occasional misgivings, this feature comes from what is widely considered to be Antonioni's richest period, and evidence of his stunning mastery is available throughout. Full Review

Walter Chaw
April 10, 2014
Walter Chaw, Film Freak Central

one of the truly great achievements in Modern art. Full Review

Christopher Long
November 5, 2013
Christopher Long, Movie Metropolis

Pay closest attention when the least seems to be happening, and you never know what you'll notice. Full Review

Scott Tobias
October 28, 2013
Scott Tobias, The Dissolve

The substance of La Notte is owed entirely to Antonioni's intoxicating ambiance, and his stars' ability to speak in looks and gestures more than words. Full Review

Jay Antani
August 17, 2010
Jay Antani, Cinema Writer

Stylistically, La Notte intrigues but, in the realm of ideas, I think the movie begins to plod and drag halfway through Full Review

Anton Bitel
March 13, 2008
Anton Bitel, Film4

For all the sublimity of its craft, La Notte will leave most viewers feeling no less bored than its ennui-afflicted characters. Full Review

Dennis Schwartz
August 5, 2007
Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Everything seemed as superficial as the main characters. Full Review

August 29, 2006
TV Guide's Movie Guide

This problematic film serves more as a transition for Antonioni than anything else. Full Review

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  • Which actress was Michelangelo Antonioni's early '60s muse, gracing some of his greatest films: L'AVVENTURA, LA NOTTE, L'ECLISSE, and RED DESERT?  Answer »

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