European movies in the past few years have fallen fallow, unable to keep pace with the sheer energy of American movie-making. No European country, with the exception of Germany, is exporting excitement. Typical of the trend are the latest works of two masters, Visconti and Truffaut. Visconti’s The Innocent, the last film he completed before his death in 1976, is a great, stately, plodding number wherein every shot is exquisitely framed and moves with a lush, operatic rhythm. The story is one of thwarted passion among the Italian leisured class in the last century: Tullio (a miscast Giancarlo Giannini) offers his wife Guiliana (a luscious Laura Antonelli) plati-
tudes of esteem and affection while pursuing his mistress (Jennifer O’Neill). When the mistress desists, and the wife has an affair with a writer, he pursues his wife the way he did his mistress—as an exotic phantasm. But her illicit pregnancy turns their hopedfor idyll dark, leading to infanticide and suicide.
The Innocent is fulsomely stamped with Visconti’s style—seldom has such lumber-
ing been made to look so lovely. But the movie’s blood runs cold: it’s wordy and ponderous. Lacking the extravagant madnesses of either The Damned or Ludwig, it's also expository to a fault—Ibsen gone south. And Visconti’s obsessive quest for formal beauty emerges as a passion for fashion.
Truffaut’s Love on the Run is the fifth in the Antoine Doinel series that began masterfully with The 400 Blows. Antoine (JeanPierre Leaud) is now divorced from Claude Jade (from Stolen Kisses and Bed and Board), but involved again with a new amour (Dorothée) and an old one (MarieFrance Pisier from Love at Twenty). Indulgently, Truffaut uses (many) old scenes from those earlier movies to paste together what passes for a new one. To say the least, the series is running a bit thin, and Antoine has grown dull. Love on the Run seems to have been made on the run and for no reason other than to make a movie. Truffaut is passing the time of day. Fie can be just as boring as anybody else at it.
The story you want is part of the Maclean’s Archives. To access it, log in here or sign up for your free 30-day trial.
Experience anything and everything Maclean's has ever published — over 3,500 issues and 150,000 articles, images and advertisements — since 1905. Browse on your own, or explore our curated collections and timely recommendations.WATCH THIS VIDEO for highlights of everything the Maclean's Archives has to offer.