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Amarcord, 1973

Titta (Bruno Zanin) is a young man growing up in 1930s Italy. The film follows a series of vignettes of the different members of the town, including Titta's family and the various women he and his friends lust after.

Coming off of watching An Autumn Afternoon, I found myself still drawn to that theme of the bittersweet, inevitable change of life. While the movie is largely comedic, both the historical backdrop of Italian fascism and the natural cycles of life and death provide some somber, emotional moments. Maybe one of my favorite moments came toward the end (no spoilers, promise!) in which a character emerges from an emotionally trying experience to find puffballs floating through the air, a sign of coming spring.

For the most part I enjoyed the different explorations. It was interesting to see the way that some sequences felt as if they were deliberately exaggerated to feel like the memories of a child/teenager. This particularly comes to the forefront in the portrayal of the different female characters, like the sex-crazed La Volpina, or the epicly endowed owner of the tobacco shop. This worked better for me in the abstract--such as when a gaggle of schoolboys are aroused by the sight of a series of women of all ages plopping their butts down on their bicycle seats. I had mixed feelings about the character of La Volpina, who at times seems more like someone who is suffering from mental illness than just someone who loves sex.

Other sequences, such as when Titta's father is brought in for questioning because he has allegedly defamed the state and Mussolini, are played much straighter. I think that these scenes are well chosen and timed for two reasons. The first is that the drama provides a necessary counter-balance to the antics of the rest of the film. The second is that it allows the film to avoid idealizing a time in which horrible things were happening in the country.

I had two issues with the film, though both of them were relatively minor. The first is that I wanted more character development. We do get this with Titta, especially at the end, but most of the other characters (and especially the female characters) feel pretty one-dimensional. That sort of gets a pass given the comedy and the conceit of it playing more like a memory. The other issue I had was that around 90 minutes in I started to get a bit fatigued with all the quirkiness. The film is funny and I loved the over-the-top staging, but the middle third started to drag a bit for me. It picks up good momentum at the end as things begin to resolve, but I felt myself detaching from the narrative around the time the middle eastern caricatures wandered into the frame.

Overall I liked this one quite a bit. It has been on my watchlist for a while now, so thanks to whoever picked it!