Le Amiche Review

In contrast to the solo protagonist and resolutely singular narrative of La Signora Senza Camelie, Antonioni’s Le Amiche presents us with a group of women living and working in Turin and a loose structure punctuated by laid back scenes and eruptions of emotion. The title loosely means ‘The Girlfriends’, although an Italian friend informs me that some of the depth to this phrase is lost in translation, and the multi-stranded narrative pulls in the many stories that these women have to offer, making it easy to be lost in this enthralling and captivating film. Without the occasionally cold or austere approach that seeped into Antonioni’s 60s work Le Amiche is almost effervescent, with its relatively quick fire dialogue and densely filled frames.

Despite the many characters that make up the film’s narrative, it is the character of Clelia (Eleonora Rossi Drago) that is at the centre of the film and it is through her that the story sprawls outwards. Arriving in Turin to set up a new fine clothing shop Clelia checks into a hotel but before she even has a chance to get her bearings she is thrown in amongst the group of women that make up ‘le amiche’ of the title, following the suicide attempt of Rosetta (Madeline Fischer). We are then introduced to the varied female characters of Le Amiche and the men that orbit them. Whilst not as grand a story perhaps as La Signora Senza Camelie, Le Amiche benefits greatly from a group of strong actresses and a compelling dramatic story. Engrossing and ultimately incredibly rewarding.

Antonioni frames the female leads of Le Amiche wonderfully in a variety of confined spaces, constantly finding new areas within these to position them, conveying the characters emotions and most importantly their overlapping connections, all done through expert framing.

Antonioni’s skill at composition is evident in both La Signora Senza Camelie and Le Amiche with the framing and depth of field always used for the benefit of the story and the characters. This is also true of the exquisite camera movement throughout both films. The tracking shots glide through the spaces, guiding the audience’s eye through the environments and between characters, immersing one in the events unfolding. Truly exquisite filmmaking from a director who understood the need for the story to dictate the stylistic approach and the importance of technical choices that helped immerse rather than distance the audience.