I KNEW HER WELL (1965), a discoid of which them Criterionoids dealt us, was one of the major wait-one-goddamn-second film discoveries of the past decade for yours humbly and truly; he been yearning for some more Pietrangeli. ADUA ET AL. is, like I KNEW HER, uncommonly sober on patriarchy and subjection for a Euro-Trip of its era. You'll absolutely have cause to reflect on earlier masterpieces by Naruse and Mizoguchi.
After prostitution is made illegal in Italy, four sex workers decide to open a brothel disguised as a restaurant in a small town. As the restaurant grows popular, as they begin to experience new relationships and desires, the crushing realization that their pasts will forever mark them becomes apparent. Simone Signoret and Emmanuelle Riva, as two of the women, are especially heartbreaking.
A bleak drama with complex characters, solid performances and an unexpected care in the direction/photography. In my opinion, the realist elements are a minority and as a result the film faintly digs up the paradoxes of Italian society at the time, leaving quite unexplored the issues it confronts with. Side note: the soundtrack is wonderful but extenuating.
It's easy to see how this was overlooked in a year that brought us the beginnings of both the French New Wave and Italian modernism, but while those films were making their stylistic innovations, 'Adua and Her Friends' was busy taking down masculinist, hypocritical Italian society from the vantage point of four (former) sex workers. Its final moments move from exhilarating to absolutely heartbreaking.
A wonderful film featuring a quartet of fantastic performances from Simone Signoret, Sandra Milo, Emmanuelle Riva and Gina Rovere as four former brothel workers attempting to run a restaurant only to find the prejudices of their former lives define them. Scripting is excellent as is the b&w cinematograpy of Armando Nannuzzi. Was not aware of this director previously but worthy of investigation.
Mad stylish film, simply shot BUT with that kinetic Italian camera we all love. Beautiful, jazzy soundtrack. An often funny, but somber, movie about four sex workers starting a restaurant and their corrupt landlord's attempt to press them back into sex work.
Adua And Her Friends is a bit of a surprise gem from classic Italian cinema, but perhaps that's because of my unfamiliarity with Pietrangli. The four main women perfectly blend comedic situations with a heartbreaking melancholy, and Simone Signoret and Emmanualle Riva are particularly stunning. Marcello Mastroianni never goes unappreciated.
It takes a while for this film to get going for me, especially with the same low-key jazz theme that kind of deadens the energy a bit. However, I love where this goes with the girls' painful interactions with men and their inability to escape their former lives. The cinematography is very well done and both Simone Signoret and Emmanuelle Riva are golden. This one was definitely a nice surprise.
How did I not know about this film? Social hypocrisy and early feminism hit the right notes in an honest plot about 4 ex-prostitutes fighting to go straight. Everybody knows it wasn't going to be easy, but the smart dialog and performances keep this buoyant. Simone Signoret at her most heart-breaking.