Going into La Dolce Vita I think I was expecting a very different film. All the famous pictures from this film are of Marcello (Marcello Mastroianni) and Sylvia (Anita Ekberg) at the Trevi Fountain in Rome. Naturally, I figured that this would be some sort of clever love story set in the glitterati of Italy. Something like a more glamorous version of La Strada, but still as cutting.
I was… pretty much completely wrong. Pretty much the only thing I got right was that Marcello Paparazzo is the film’s central character. So, what is this film about?
Well it’s a 3 hours of following gossip journalist Paparazzo as he negotiates the world of the famous and privileged in Rome. It’s composed of a number of stories (it appears that there is a disagreement amongst film critics about the number) whose quality really seems to taper off towards the end.
The famous scenes between Mastronianni and Ekberg happens incredibly early into the film and, to be honest, it’s pretty much downhill from there. The following section, where Marcello and his girlfriend Emma visit some kids who claim to have seen a vision of the Virgin Mary, is another great one. After this, it’s just so opulent and vapid… which is what Fellini was aiming for, but is not enough to keep me mentally engaged for more than two hours.
Here’s the thing. There is some stuff in this film that I enjoyed. The direction was excellent as were Mastronianni, Ekberg and Yvonne Furneaux. However, this film is just too long and contains too many different vignettes. I know I’m in a minority: according to They Shoot Pictures La Dolce Vita is one of the best ever made. I guess I just don’t have ‘taste’.