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I vitelloni

Directed by Federico Fellini.
With Alberto Sordi, Franco Fabrizi, Franco Interlenghi.
Italy/France, 1953, DCP, black & white, 108 min.
Italian with English subtitles.

Opening with an end-of-summer beauty pageant that’s interrupted by a thunderstorm, I vitelloni carries that same sense of faded splendor through the rest of its year-long narrative timeline, which charts the trajectory of a quartet of wastrels as they shirk adult responsibility in the modest seaside town of their childhood. Introduced in a voiceover narration that only sporadically returns for wistful summarization, the discontented bunch includes the youthful lush Alberto (Alberto Sordi), the doomed poet Leopoldo (Leopoldo Trieste), the stoic and restless Moraldo (Franco Interlenghi), and the unrepentant womanizer Fausto (Franco Fabrizi), whose nightly whims become the gravitational center holding together a loose cluster of subplots. The provincial setting, adjacent to the Adriatic, marks I vitelloni as the first of Fellini’s transparently autobiographical projects, and, as such, it is a film saturated in nostalgia and tenderness—for the charming town rituals, for the pool hall and movie palace, for the windswept tranquility of the streets after last call, and, above all, for the lost innocence. Consequently, the film’s overarching compassion for its subjects lets Fausto off the hook for his worst excesses, but, in the end, it is Moraldo who emerges as Fellini’s soulful surrogate.

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