****/**** Image A+ Sound A Extras B
starring Marcello Mastroianni, Jeanne Moreau, Monica Vitti, Bernhard Wicki
written and directed by Michelangelo Antonioni
by Walter Chaw The second film in a loose quartet of Modernist, existentially-despairing--some would say brutal--Michelangelo Antonioni pictures, La Notte is the one I would identify, if pressed, as the best among L'avventura, L'eclisse, and Red Desert. I'd even go so far as to call it Antonioni's best movie overall: the one that most completely encompasses the filmmaker's worldview and puts into sharpest relief the tools with which he expresses it. He's at the height of his powers here. I would argue that although his Blow-Up both defined foreign film as a genre for American audiences (while proving instrumental in defeating the Production Code, heralding the level of acceptance and permissiveness that made the American '70s in film possible) and is indisputably his most influential work (indeed, it's among the most influential films of all time), it's La Notte that offers the cleanest insight into who and what Antonioni is as an artist.