The expressive elegance of Antonioni's camera movements -- the way he glides around a scene, composing and recomposing the human figures within it to suggest psychological patterns and unacknowledged erotic connections -- still has the power to amaze.
Antonioni's ability to use the screen's illusion of depth or the way he lends an eloquence to the space between characters is a marvel. How he has these people stand is so much more expressive than anything they say.
Fortunately, relief for the navel-gazing conversations comes in the actual film craft -- photography, production design, music, control of pace and tone -- which reveals Antonioni's blossoming mastery.
Long before the he put Monica Vitti through the existentialist-ennui wringer, Michelangelo Antonioni gave the world this muted melodrama about urban females dealing with boorish men, banal modern life and the occasional suicide attempt.