Fellini's wife is an annoying bitch. How I know that? Because she plays the female lead in his La Strada. A really pit that I can't stand the naivety and numb nature of her Gelsomina because Anthony Quinn who plays the other leading character is plain awesome.
His Zampano is one of the greatest film characters I've seen on screen ever. Almost like a character from a Kurosawa film, he's both funny and brutal and right until the end we never exactly know if he's actually a good guy inside or why he just doesn't abandon Gelsomina.
Much of La Strada is a mystery, but the loose ends are, what it's essentially about. It's neither a melodrama nor a really character study, but just an excerpt of life, of a brute artist and a poor young girl who goes along with him for a certain distance. There's no tragic or happy ending, it just ends when their ways split again. I guess this is what life really looks like (at least more than Hollywood melodrama), the other thing is if I desire to watch a film about it.
If it has characters like Zampano, yes, give me more of it. With characters like Gelsomina I can live without these kind of films. La Strada, in the process, is somewhere in the middle - one brilliant character, an offbeat story but some very annoying details and of course Gelsomina as the big deal breaker.
Nevertheless, La Strada gets the old-master-bonus (which is the reason why I watched it in the first place) and you just have to acknowledge and admire Fellini's ability to play with comedy set pieces in this rather serious film.
Also, from what I've read, this is his most personal film and with some effort you can see references to his own life.