I might not be the most informed human on cinematography, or I do not hang out with the ultimate film fans, so forgive me if the title is a bit misleading. However, when I hear about Federico Fellini, three movies are always mentioned: 8 ½, La Dolce Vita, and Nights of Cabiria but never La Strada.
I also do not look regularly on the internet for movie lists, being more interested in finding out information about a director, an artistic movement, or actor than ’10 good movies to watch’. However, from what I have seen, La Strada is hardly mentioned.
I do not know why because it is one of the most charming yet tragic movies I’ve seen. Two things that are usually hard to put on the same movie. It is also deceiving, funny, touching, and depressing.
Weird combination, right? Well, that is how Fellini is rolling in every movie from what I’ve watched. Let’s jump into the review, and see what this Italian gem is capable of (yes, I’m sure it’s a gem!).
What is good about it?
#1st thing: the characters
What got me hooked from the beginning were the characters. They are suited for those who like to feel things deeply and empathize with the character. One of them is a charming young lady, naïve as a child which will make your heart melt!
She might cry a bit too much for other’s tastes, but in the end, I’m sure you’ll fell in love with her. After all, she’s a bit like us: caught in stuff she does not really want.
If you did not get your blood elevated for a long time, then her friend might be just what you are looking for. He is a scumbag, business-oriented (or more precisely, money-oriented), and choleric. Sometimes he’s drunk.
However, the characters are not as black and white as I portrayed them. They gradually change and become more complex. The development is awesome. Everyone is a little twisted, so why not present that? Do they really intend harm? Are they really so innocent? Their dynamic is lovely too.
#2nd thing: the acting
Hands down to one and only, Giulietta Masina! The muse of adorable faces and innocent characters (not an actual title, just something that I made up). I’ve seen her in other films too, and she is absolutely adorable. She gives all that she has, and she is really attentive to play her part well. I think she is one of the few actors who can manage to play a role that requires innocence and curiosity, but also a gloomy feeling.
Anthony Quinn was also on the spot with the interpretation of Zampanò (the scumbag). He accentuated this side of him, but subtly communicated more things about his character (i.e. how layered he is).
#3rd thing: the attitude
I do not know how to properly name this category, but it goes around that name. The story revolves around this poor girl, Gelsomina, who has to work with Zampanò (a circus strongman), and how their relationship evolves.
It does not try to place judgment on any character or to embrace any agenda, but simply presents life as it unfolds to the unlucky ones. What can the harsh reality do? Why are we so contradictory creatures? Why do we need to feel useful? La Strada may give an insight on this.
What is not so good about it?
Unless you’re really picky, I don’t see what you can object to.
Fellini’s cinematography might not be the best in La Strada, but it certainly is eye-catching and intimate. It is a black and white movie, so maybe that is a problem you if you do not like black and white movies (although you lose quite a lot of good movies).
On second thought, judge for yourself if La Strada looks awesome or not:
Its runtime is 2hours and is a bit slow, so maybe if you like fast-paced movies is not the best pick for you.
There’s a certain degree of predictability, so that might be a flaw (but not all the movies should be unpredictable).
All in all, I recommend it to everyone. Just switch things up a little and try this one, or enjoy it with a cup of tea or coffee on a comfy Sunday afternoon. I’m sure you will fall in love with La Strada or bits of it!