Conversation Piece (Gruppo di famiglia in un interno)1974
Conversation Piece (Gruppo di famiglia in un interno) (1974)
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Critic Reviews for Conversation Piece (Gruppo di famiglia in un interno)
As in bad plays, everyone always means exactly what he says and never has to think a second before saying it. There is no feeling for the complexity of the mental processes, for the mysterious ways in which the mind works.
Flawed and misshapen as the movie remains, it's also clearly the work of a master of the camera-albeit one in his autumn years.
Commences as a mannered story concerning an invasion of privacy, only to ultimately reveal itself as an open wound of feelings and political paranoia, shaped into a compelling sit by an influential, widely beloved filmmaker.
And, no, Conversation Piece is not nearly as impressive, ambitious, or powerful as The Leopard. But that doesn't make it a bad film.
Audience Reviews for Conversation Piece (Gruppo di famiglia in un interno)
Luchino Visconti directs Burt Lancaster again, years after their more famous collaboration "The Leopard" (1963). You have to be careful tracking down this film, because you don't want to see the Italian-dubbed version (ugh). This is sort of a chamber play with five dominant characters, and I don't recall one outdoor shot during the film. Lancaster plays a wealthy, reclusive professor with a gorgeously ornate home (or townhouse?). An impertinent, middle-aged aristocrat (Silvana Mangano) bullies Lancaster into renting her his unused upper floor, because she needs a nest for her androgynous lover (Helmet Berger), her daughter (sexy Claudia Marsani, who had just a brief acting career) and the daughter's boyfriend (Stefano Patrizi, who makes a weaker impression). Lancaster almost immediately regrets his consent, because the upstairs libertines are grossly disrespectful and destructive to their new surroundings. But an unlikely bond develops between the Lancaster, Berger and Marsani characters -- they awaken his lost spirit of adventure, while they view him with a mix of taboo attraction and child-like admiration. Most of the story focuses on the evolution of Berger's character, who has a dark side. This is almost a wonderful film, but the ending is a bit clunky.
In "Conversation Piece," Bianca(Silvana Mangano) barges into the Rome apartment of a retired professor(Burt Lancaster), an art historian. Mistakenly, he assumes she has something to do with the painting he is interested in buying and is unpleasantly surprised when he finds out that it is instead his upstairs apartment that she is interested in renting for her paid lover Konrad(Helmut Berger), a former radical. The Professor intends to use it as an expansion for his library but as she astutely puts it, he has more than enough room for his books already in the service area of his apartment.(Did I mention that apparently she does not have a tape measure?) Despite Bianca missing her calling as a used car salesperson, he declines. But when Lietta(Claudia Marsani), her daughter, offers the painting he was originally interested in for three months' rent, he agrees to rent it for a year. And then the sky falls in. Director by Luchino Visconti, "Conversation Piece" is a very engaging, witty and intelligent movie about what it means to truly live. The Professor moved from the United States to experience the Italy of his youth which he dreams of, not the conflicted one of the present. So he keeps it at bay, buying a complex system of locks for his front door after it closes in on him. There is nothing wrong with that, by the way, as the movie, despite not moving outside of the building, does not feel claustrophobic or stagy in the least. The Professor could presumably venture outside. As Lietta points out, he is not dead yet.(I also thought he might be gay, not asexual.) "Conversation Piece," like the real world, is very unpredictable. What I assumed would be a simple clash of cultures and generations becomes rather fascinating when the characters start to interact in some very intriguing ways. The other thing about the real world is that it is full of compromises which Konrad is more than aware of; he once believed in something very strongly, but is now forced to demean himself.
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