Of A Woman
renowned director Michelangelo
Antonioni died in July 2007 at the age of
94 and will be remembered for his iconic
films particularly his most famous
work, Blow-Up (1966), a sexually explicit
murder mystery set in swinging 60s
London that starred Vanessa Redgave
and David Hemmings. Identification Of
A Woman (aka Identificazione Di Una
Donna) was released in 1982 and earned
Antonioni another win at the Cannes
ALTOGETHER A MORE COMPLEX FILM than L'Avventura
the two Anonioni films were both released on DVD on 16 June (2008)
Identification Of A Woman is also about a woman who disappears,
but it is given an entirely different treatment.
In typical Antonioni style, the viewer is led directly into recently-divorced,
middle-aged film director Niccolo Farra's life. Niccolo (Tomas Milian) fumbles
to find the key to his apartment and pauses to write on a scrap of paper: "His
wife was a fearful woman. When they divorced, she took her fear with her but
not the alarm."
He then enters the apartment on his hands and knees; but he is unable to prevent
a noisy alarm from going off. Having immobilised it, he misses a telephone call
and a child's voice on the ansaphone says: "Niccolo you promised me. It's a
year I've been waiting."
When the telephone rings again, a man tells him he's been asked to tell Niccolo
something important and that it's a delicate matter. They agree to meet, and
an angry Niccolo is given a warning from a mystery man regarding a girl he is
While searching for a 'face' for his next film, Niccolo has embarked upon a
passionate and obsessive relationship with Maria Vittoria Luppis (Daniela Silverior)
known as Mavi whom he had met through his sister Carla (Veronica
Lazar), a gynaecologist.
Although Mavi invites him into her world, it is not a world he is comfortable
with. At a cocktail party a wonderful fashion show of designs of the
Eighties she pointedly doesn't introduce him to many people.
The sex scenes are graphic, with full female nudity, and lines of communication
are ambiguous: "If God didn't exist," says Mavi, "would man exist?" And she
admits: "Men attract me, and in Spring I make new acquaintances."
He tells her she's unfathomable and that she manages to appear at the same time
bitter and sweet. And when he discovers that his sister has lost her job, he
believes it is to do with the man who threatened him. He calls Mavi, and when
she doesn't answer straight away, he asks her how he can be sure that she didn't
secretly meet the mystery man…
Niccolo and Mavi are being stalked and, under cover of night, drive to a country
house he has rented that was built over Roman remains and is slowly sinking
into the hollow above the ruins. There is a wonderfully-atmospheric scene where
Mavi runs off into the fog and is momentarily lost.
At the house, Mavi accuses Niccolo of ruining her life but that doesn't stop
a marathon love-making session under a billowing white sheet. The following
morning Niccolo discovers the house has been double-booked and that Mavi has
While searching for her, he meets a number of young women (among them Antonioni's
future wife Enrico Fico) and he decides to make a movie about women's relationships.
The main themes are loneliness and abandonment themes that are, in Antonioni's
inimitable style, reflected in the thick fog and the stark landscapes and the
mood of the characters.
Then Niccolo meets Ida (Christine Boisson), a dancer from the theatre where
I Fiori Del Maloe is being performed. Although he has tracked Mavi down,
she manages to avoid him and the threats continue.
Despondent, he invites Ida to Venice and they take a boat out to the open lagoon,
out towards the sea. The water is sad, she says. "There's no joy." And Niccolo
observes darkly: "We imagine happiness where we are not. It must be the primary
reason for suffering. Maybe one should marry first and solve everything later."
Ida comments: "Italian directors act as if they were paid to protest against
the world. And laugh at it." But she has fallen deeply in love with Niccolo
and there are further complications that may prevent them from staying together.
Identification Of A Woman features Sandra Monteleoni as Mavi's sister;
Alessandro Ruspoli as Mavi's father; Luisa Della Noce as Mavi's mother; Lara
Wendel, Enrica Fico, and Marcel Bozzufi. The Producer is Giorgio Nocella; the
Director of Photography is Carlo di Palma and the original music is by John
The film became notorious in the UK when it was first aired on Channel
4, and there were so many complaints about the nudity that they were forced
to introduce the 'Parental Discretion' triangle. The film is beautiful in many
ways with intriguing, dark overtones; an exercise in exploring the psyche and
dissecting relationships and the damage they can do.
Of A Woman is on sale now (released on 16 June, 2008) at a RRP of £14.99.
"Identification Of A Woman… The film is beautiful in many ways with intriguing,
dark overtones; an exercise in exploring the psyche and dissecting relationships
and the damage they can do" MotorBar