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Ginger & Fred

Directed by Federico Fellini.
With Marcello Mastroianni, Giulietta Masina, Franco Fabrizi.
Italy/France/West Germany, 1986, DCP, color, 126 min.
Italian and English with English subtitles.
DCP source: Luce Cinecittà, Cineteca di Bologna and Cineteca Nazionale

Though they each had their own long history of acting in Fellini films, Marcello Mastroianni and Giulietta Masina had improbably never shared the screen together until Ginger & Fred, a film that functions at least partly as a tribute to their lovable personas. Despite their lack of previous collaboration, however, Mastroianni and Masina radiate a palpable chemistry as Pippo and Amelia, a pair of aging tap dancers who long ago retired their Ginger Rogers/Fred Astaire masquerade act but who are now being recruited for a garish television variety show—a scenario that plainly reflects the actors’ own homecoming with Fellini. Arriving by train in a modernized Rome overrun with television screens, Amelia is escorted to a gaudy resort where, amidst numerous other caricatures of American pop culture figures, she’ll eventually reunite with Pippo and begin the exasperating process of reviving a dead routine with a man whose temperament and ideology have shifted far from what she remembers. Linking artifice with corruption in a way that essentially implicates his own filmmaking practice, Fellini casts a jaundiced eye on globalization and commercialism in this shaggy late-period melodrama, a film that finds a delicate frisson between bittersweet nostalgia and social critique.

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