Giuseppe Patroni Griffi – Il mare (1963)


Tourist season has not yet begun. Capri is deserted and the sky is sadly grey. An actor arrives. He’s waiting for a woman who won’t come. In the meanwhile he’s having a strange relationship with a young alcoholic man who even tries to kill him; he’s bored, with no ideals, strong and weak at the same time. The two men are shaping a strange friendship, or at least they try, until a woman comes on the isle.
“In this movie words are used in a way different from usual. When they talk to each other, the three leading actors talk about ordinary things, not about their relationship. They never talk about their feelings. The story is sombre, as it’s filled with missed attractions and hidden feelings. The actors express themselves with moves, gestures and their contribution is fundamental for that. Only good actors can do that” (Patroni Griffi)

What I remembered of the film, its stark atmosphere and the special beauty of off-season Capri, superbly photographed, still held true for me. Also holding true was the stunning pretentiousness and Antoniennui (to borrow Andrew Sarris’ clever coinage) of the whole piece, like a directorial wet-dream inspired by the island sequences of “L’Avventura”. It has fine photogenic actors speaking some impossible dialog. It is a synthesis and time-capsule and reductio-ad-absurdum of early 1960s art house cinema, beautiful yet unbearable, requiring multiple cups of the free espresso the art cinemas of that epoch used to supply their patrons to kick-start them back into the world of the living.Gerald A. DeLuca


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