La Dolce Vita - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

La Dolce Vita Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ March 21, 2015
Told in a brilliant episodic structure, this fascinating character study is the truest definition of Felliniesque: an exceptional film that is magical in its fanciful depiction of glamour in the Roman aristocracy and depressing in the way it shows the decadence of a society and of man himself.
Super Reviewer
January 13, 2013
Italian Movie about a player that in 1960 must have raised eyebrows, I didnt enjoy it 1 star
Super Reviewer
½ August 2, 2012
Essential surrealist film, La Dolce Vita is an early critique to press photography, bourgeois society, special attention to stars and social decadence.
Super Reviewer
½ February 6, 2011
This doesn't happen very often, but I must say, I'm rather baffled. I'm not sure how I truly feel about this movie. I don't know if I truly get it. I'm a smart guy, and I'd like to think I can 'get' artsy European cinema, but I am simultaneously aware of why this is called a classic but also baffled as to why it is so adored.

The film tells the story of a tabloid photographer in Rome in the 50s who discovers that the high society world isn't all that it seems, that trying to find a balance betwween the relics of the past and the ever-growing ways of the modern world is complicated, and that it can be quite a challenge to discover who one really is amidst all of this. That's pretty much it. That's the plot in it's most simplified way.

It doesn't take long to really get all of this, but the film is just under three hours. I really don't think it needed to be. However,the film is wall to wall with style and cinematic craft. The film has a neat structure (it takes place over the course of about a weeks worth of days and nights, though not consecutively), and there's all kinds of religious imagery and symbolism-allowing the viewer to either just read into it like there's no tomorrow, or just take it at face value. Normally I'm cool with this sort of thing, but again, the movie is just about 3 hours...and kinda slow at times.

The film could have had far more substance, especially given the theme and premise, but the slice of life stuff it quite nice too. It just all happens to ramble far too often. Maybe I'm being too hard on this though. Maybe I should have been really exhauted and had my mind on other things when I sat down to watch it. Or maybe (and I'm probably in the minority here) Fellini was more full of crap than people might like to admit. I loved 8 1/2 , but I was in a different mood and mindset when I saw that.

I do love the music and cinematography though. There's some really gorgeous (and sometiems surreal) images, and some sequences are just fantastic, but it's all just kinda hard to endure in one setting. Ther performances aren't bad, but it seems like Fellini was more interested in just letting everything just run wild instead of having a far tighter hold on things. Maybe the issues Im haivng with this can be attributed to the fact that, as a bunch of critics and scholars have said, this was a transitional film for Fellini between his neo-realistic stuff, and his whimsical art film. It has elements of both, and they are done well, but maybe they just don't blend all that wonderfully.

I'm rambling, much lke the movie. I didn't hate it, but I found it very hard to endure. Is it a really good movie? Yeah. Is it really all that influential? Sure. Does it deserve all the accolades and respect it gets? To an extent. You should see this, just to say you finally saw it, because it is worth it. As a cohesive masterpiece though, I didn't find it to be that exactly. 4 stars for the film overall, and an extra half star just for the style and technique.
Super Reviewer
August 1, 2011
A gossip columnist has a raucous time of it in Rome with various starlets and high society types.
I dreaded seeing this film because I found most of Fellini's other work to be vapid and unimpressive, but La Dolce Vita was not that bad. It's not remarkably inaccessible like 8 1/2 or banal like Amaracord, but because it's a Fellini film, I can't be sure if what I got out of the film is similar to what the consensus view is. Here it goes regardless: I see this film as an exploration of hedonism. Marcello's relationship with Emma is grounded but ultimately not fulfilling and in some ways quite destructive; after all, she's introduced in a suicide scene. Marcello's relationships with his the starlets he covers is best summed up in a description of Sylvia: she's a hot mess, flighty, alluring in her unattainable nature - the very nature that makes him want to attain her all the more; she's unpredictable, vital, and very much alive. Yet as Marcello tries to enter this world and be worthy of her and people like her and live "the sweet life," so to speak, he descends into confusing pleasure for happiness and popularity for importance.
Of course, it's Fellini, so I could be way off base.
I can't say that I truly enjoyed the film, but because I was able to tease out a theme (the one I just articulated), it intellectually engaged me. The performances are all good, nothing too extraordinary.
Overall, this is the best Fellini film I've seen so far, but that's not saying much.
Super Reviewer
September 5, 2010
This is a classic Italian film from Fellini, and I liked it, but I don't think it's his best film. It has a good cast, but the story could have been better, I think.
Super Reviewer
April 18, 2010
Certainly a film I have yet to unpack. I just watched it and it has moved me more than most classic pieces. While classic, the message is timeless. Caught between the materialistic comforts of the new world and the "simplicity" of the old, Fellini's protagonist exemplifies the search to find oneself in a sea of opposing values. Like I said, there is a lot to unpack. All I know is that it moved me and is one film that I truely feels surpasses the abundant praise it has received. If you have seen it, let me know, because I would love to talk to you about it. Needless to say, my introduction to Fellini was mindblowing.
Super Reviewer
March 28, 2010
One of the true landmarks in film history (and one of my all-time favorites), La Dolce Vita is a powerful and profound film that is absolutely mesmerizing -- from the now infamous opening scene of a helicopter carrying a statue of Christ flying over Rome's ancient ruins, to the metaphorically loaded prehistoric fish washing ashore at the end. Federico Fellini's masterpiece is not only a caustic critique of modern Rome, but it's pertinent to all modern society as well. The corrosion of community, of traditional values, and the crushing consequences of modernization have never been displayed in a more beautifully poignant manner. Indeed, the film seems to be rather prophetic with its cautionary underpinnings, and amazingly, that message is just as relevant today as it was back then. What continues to amaze me is how this film -- a film that essentially is about the "nothingness" and shallow nature of modern man -- can be so meaningful and heartfelt. Our hearts break as our protagonist, Marcello Rubini (a frustrated tabloid journalist who's stuck between the "old world" and the "new world"), tries desperately to find some meaning in his shallow, materialistic existence, and we feel the bittersweet moment where he begrudgingly accepts the life he leads. But rather than wallow in cynicism, Fellini's genius is characterized by a zest for life -- albeit a tragically insatiable one. Coming in at nearly three hours, the film remarkably never feels boring, it's rich in intelligent observation, and it shares some wisdom without being preachy -- exemplifying Fellini's gift for entertaining and amusing. There seems to be a lot films that are labeled "classics" (some deserving, some not), but you'd be hard-pressed to find a lot of films that are more classic, and more important, than La Dolce Vita. An absolute must-see.
Super Reviewer
January 26, 2007
although certainly styled and beautifully shot like a fellini film, i found this film to be a far cry from some of his other films that i enjoyed far more. rather than a coherent plot the film is 3 hours of random and unconnected moments in marcello's life that are supposed to lead one to an understanding of his plight for love and the meaning of life, but instead i just felt that his life sort of sputtered along until an anticlimatic ending that brought no closure at all. a beautiful film to look at and ekberg brought some needed charisma to the film, but the story was very unsatisfying for me. the score was almost entirely for the captivating images and wonderful acting.
Mr Awesome
Super Reviewer
½ December 26, 2009
La dolce vita is a sprawling tale of the excess of the upper class of Rome, as seen through the eyes of a journalist in moral crisis. The film is constructed in such a way as to make ample use of symbolism. The film opens with a great shot of a Christ statue being brought to the pope via helicopter, with the paparazzi following in their own helicopter. The paparazzi stop to talk (in hand gestures) to some bikini-clad, sun bathing girls. Later, Marcello (one of the paparazzi) picks up a young socialite who's being hounded by photographers, and they speed off together in her car. They pick up a prostitute who takes them back to her place, but they wind up locking her out of the room and sleeping together without her. The socialite is also a prostitute, but not for money (as Marcello tells her "you have too much money", she answers "and you haven't enough"). Marcello arrives home in the morning to find his girlfriend has attempted suicide (again). Theirs is a love/hate relationship: Marcello can't stand her maternal clingy-ness and desperate longing for a conventional married life. He's more content to throw himself into the seedy celebrity world of adulation and cheap sexual favors. When a beautiful blonde american starlet (Anita Ekberg) comes to town, she has all the men falling over themselves in adoration, Marcello included. In one scene that seems more a dream sequence, he's chasing her up an impossibly tall staircase that winds itself up a tower. All the other men have dropped off, exhausted from the chase, but Marcello follows her all the way to the end. She's playful and childish, but she belongs to anohter man, and Marcello gets beaten up for his flirtations. There's another interesting scene involving two children who've had a vision of the virgin Mary. The press and the faithfully devoted all flock to the spot where the children had their vision, and while family members bring out their sick and dying for miracle cures, the children make a game of pretend. As the movie progresses, Marcello loses his safety nets and sanctuaries, both to fraud and death, and as this happens, he falls deeper into the well of debauchery. The wealthy socialites go from being merely crass and immoral, to being the virtual dead, or even worse, animals with no sense of right and wrong. By the end, Marcello all but loses whatever hold he had on his humanity, lashing out at some wide-eyed wannabe rube starlet, all but tarring and feathering her. The movie ends as it began, with a conversation being attempted with hand gestures, only this time the meaning is completely lost on Marcello. La dolce vita is a complex and expertly woven piece of storytelling, and one that may require more than on viewing to fully appreciate.
Super Reviewer
October 17, 2008
In many ways, this movie is totally pointless. In so many other ways, this movie is divine.
Super Reviewer
½ February 25, 2008
My introduction to Fellini and it was love at first sight.
Super Reviewer
½ July 18, 2007
What a movie! Yet another one that I approach carefully, given the super hype. But it really does live up to it. La Dolce Vita is a satyre, a parody, and irony? Marcello struggles to be a serious writer in the glamourous upscale Roman society. His job is to be a gossip columnist, but his true aspiration is to become a novelist. During daytime, he observes the effects of his nighttime. He does nothing but take photographs and find out what the rich and the famous are eating, who they are dating... perhaps even spend the night with them. Dancing, drinking, womanizing, gossipping. But Marcello is never content with his life, never content with what he is. When he is with the gorgeous bombshell played by Anita Ekberg, he is not enough for her. But when reality strikes him and he sees that he continues to fail in his goal, he is not enough either. He hides behind the shallow life and the vices of those he follows to conceal himself. There are very inspired moments of vulnerability and reflection. Marcello Mastroianni is suave, hypnotizing, and also wounded, self-loathing, and vulnerable. The rest of the cast play the blessed celebrities, full of addictions, disdain, and unhappiness. The epithome is Maddalena, played by Anouk Aimee. She's in love with Marcello, but can she really love? She's a helpless pleasure seeker who can't devote herself to a single man. Same with Marcello: he wishes to pursue a serious journalism career, something that the loves, and yet he is helplessly swallowed by the nightlife. He can't fight it, so he ends up hating himself, hurting his neurotic, suicidal wife by turning into a notorious womanizer. The ending is very ambiguous, but one thing is sure: Marcello's famous "friends" have ruined his career. Not really them, but their lifestyle, their alluring hedonism.

The script is wonderful, and the story develops itself almost spontaneously. The eccentricities of the characters are fascinating, as is the broken domestic life of Marcello and his girlfriend. Every scene is a cinematic masterpiece of sheer beauty. Also present is Fellini's conception of the Italian masses, from the most rich to the most humble. I really like the scene in which the children allegedly see the Virgin Mary, because the mediatic paraphernalia that these people build around such an event is the exact same as that which they surround the starlets and the aristocracy with, every Roman night. It shows that there is a shallow side to everything in such a rotten society, even to religion. Also that every walk of life has its opium ;)
Some people see this as a pessimistic movie... some people say it both celebrates and mocks the lifestyles of the rich and the famous. I personally don't see the celebration, I see the mockery, and in the end I see some optimism. I think there's some hope for Marcello, if he will just gather the strength to go on.

This is really impossible to miss. Maybe I still think 8 1/2 is more my type of movie because it's non-linear, surrealistic, grandieuse. This is Fellini when he was still all about intelligent observation and remarkable character creation, and not as much about image and absurdity -which I love and others hate. If Satyricon and Otto e Mezzo are the reasons you hate Fellini, maybe this is the reason to love him :). And Marcello Mastroianni is in it, that never hurts.
Super Reviewer
March 18, 2007
Personally, I like Rome very much. It's sort of a modern, tranquil jungle where one can hide well. The sweet life, this is not. The life which Mastroianni leads is a disconnected dive into loneliness. Rather than hide, he wanders lost in this jungle and cannot make out any meaning for his existence. Despite innumerable chances to connect with humanity, most notably his opportunities to connect with the many women in his life, he ultimately fails to find love or his place in the the circle of humanity. His fate, finally, is unending purposelessness and a life without love. To borrow from Neil Young: To give a love, you've gotta be part of. Mastroianni is tragically not a "part of." I'm especially curious about the amount of time that has passed between the murder-suicide of Steiner and the final party-beach sequence of the film. Mastroianni has abandoned his previous life, apparently due to the Steiner incident. He is aged, his hair whiter, his face more haggard than before. Yet the young woman who hails him on the beach and whom he cannot hear looks exactly the same age as she was when he met her the first time in the beachside restaurant. If this is intentional on Fellini's part, it is maybe an interesting statement about the timelessness of innocence in a world that is anything but innocent. Why she has not aged, when Matroianni has aged quite a bit, is something to ponder.
Super Reviewer
February 11, 2007
An absolutely wonderful film about a socialite journalist caught up in the decadent Roman society of the 60s. The character of Marcello I found interesting, at first its not clear what his occupation is, but we know he is trapped in a moral, photogenic abyss that he seems to love - it is as the film progresses that we learn a lot more about his true unhappiness and his search to find himself. This is the second Fellini film I have seen and I'm starting to appreciate why he is considered one of the true legends - La Dolce Vita is chock-full of stark, beautiful shots that stick with you after the film is over - such as the shot of the beautiful Sylvia bathing in the Trevi fountain (I've been there so I know what beauty it inherently holds) and the striking scene around the miracle tree. This is a busy film, as well, it is almost overwhelming at times trying to keep up with all the action and the ideas running around, but it the end it culminates and I found the ending scene itself to be absolutely wonderful, and also sad in what it ultimately says about the lead character. Beautiful. Classic. See it.
Super Reviewer
May 2, 2010
Earns its status as a classic, but its vignettes can appear a little too disconnected at times, and each sequence can be a world of unnecessary details unto themselves. But it captures a great character trajectory and features wonderful symbolism and depiction of lifestyles gone undisciplined.
Super Reviewer
April 16, 2013
Another wonderful collaboration between Fellini and Mastroianni. Once again a slice of life of Rome in the 50s. One does not even notice the significant run time.
Super Reviewer
June 29, 2012
The stand out moment for me was when the two kids came down stairs after hearing the sounds of a storm, as hey come down the father explains that, the boy he sees beauty, he examines every pedal of a flower, while the daughter she's fascinated by combinations of words. I think this was what explained this movie, it was colorful despite being B&W and it had great dialogue. While at 2 hr 47 mins some episodes felt slow, but that was made up by the scenes of "The Madonna" and "The Orge". It was a mix of neo-realism and artistic filming. It showed how cruel and vulgar the lives of the upper class are, an how careless of human emotion the reporters were. They didn't give a damn how they get that photo, they'll capture that moment. Great film
Super Reviewer
November 15, 2011
For three hours, Director Federico Fellini depicted Rome as a modern-day Sodom or Gomorrah, stringing together fictional episodes (some allegedly based on fact) designed to expose sin and corruption among the middle and upper classes.

As a unifying device. Fellini used a newspaper gossip columnist who either observed or participated in the various events, from staging of a "miracle," in which two children fasely claimed they saw a vision of the Madonna, to an orgy in an ancient castle peopled with prostitutes, transvestites, decadent aristocrats and other sordid types.

The gifted Marcello Mastroianni portrayed the columnist -- a man who did not feel deeply, had guilt feelings because he could not, and finally realized he had become immune to emotion.

Whatever one's reservations about the philosophical profundity or lack thereof in the film, there was no denying the technical skill with which it was made. Fellini's images were rich and brilliant and edited so fluidly and diveresely that they fairly swirled across the screen, as well as Nino Rota's score, which has become a classic in its own right.
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