Venni, 'Vitti', Vicci ...
4-Legged Defender | ATL. GA. | 08/02/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"(La Femme Ecarlate - 1968) Michelangelo Antonioni's muse Monica Vitti stars in this late 60's tale of a woman, Eva, who finds out she's been swindled out of her family's fortune and Perfume Empire by her lover and marketing manager Julien. Decidedly distraught, she decides to kill him and do away with her own life, but not before feasting on champagne, caviar, candlelight and Nembutal (a narcotic) - 'makes checking out seem rather pleasant, doesn't it?
She goes to Paris, pawns the last of her jewelry, checks into a hotel, steals a pistol, buys a luxury Austin Princess automobile, and goes on one last shopping spree, purchasing furs, clothing, accessories, etc. like there's (literally) no tomorrow.
A chance encounter with an earnest business executive and deep sea diver ( Maurice Ronet) suddenly introduces the possibility of a solid romance, but only if he succeeds in racing against the clock to deter her from her self-destructive mission at a designated time and place.
What begins as a somber treatment of deep internal malaise and mental disintegration gradually gives way to an epicurean adventure about 1/3 of the way through the movie, becoming a lightweight, lighthearted romp where Vitti discovers the pleasure of simply being alive. She meets a rock group and their manager at a press conference and gets sucked into a vortex of 60's free-spiritedness and the superficial trappings of Parisienne life, dancing in nightclubs, going and coming at all hours with `the boys', engaging in recreational drugs, and meets an Argentinean tycoon who's obsessed with her, though she doesn't share his emotions. But there's still the desire to exact revenge on the man who ruined her, so the clock is still ticking...
For those who know Monica Vitti only from the grim existential parables of Antonioni's work, as I did, it's a switch to see her go from a sigh of despair to the laughter of joy in what almost becomes a comedy, and she's fetching in her role. Though maybe a bit miscast as a hellraiser, an actress of her caliber was needed to bring the drama to both the film's beginning and finale. The film steered off-course at times in the middle with all the carousing with the rockers and other suitors, and didn't seem focused with whether it wanted to be a drama or a comedy, but if you're a fan of 60's style, décor and fashion, you might want to check out 'The Scarlet Lady', and let Monica "Venni, 'Vitti', Vicci" all over you.