July 27th, 2019
What's the mark of a good film? It stays with you –––– the morning after you see it, you can't stop thinking about it. It's almost twelve hours later and this morning I awoke with Antonio Pietrangeli's Io la Conoscevo Bene [I Knew Her Well] (1965) on my mind.
Adriana Astarelli (Stefania Sandrelli) moves from the Italian countryside to Rome with dreams of breaking into the movie business, or even, dare anyone say, becoming a star. When she's not in acting classes (working on her laugh with her colleagues and instructor); driving out toward the beach to go swimming with friends at night; dancing at parties by throwing her arms about and around her body with great zest and enthusiasm equal if not surpassing that of her fellow party-goers; or driving through the sun-soaked or night-brushed streets of Rome alone; she's getting dressed and not quite putzing but certainly not hurrying around her apartment. It's a one bedroom flat in a high-rise with a stunning view that looks out over a sea, or an ocean, I can't tell which one.
The men in her life, and by extension, the men in the film have a way of appearing and granting great romantic attention and intention and adoration upon her; staying around for a few scenes; then disappearing. One leaves her in the morning, with a hotel bill that she's forced to pay for with a bracelet that he gave her, which he stole ––– very classy.
The film's trailer is short, fifty-two seconds, and is comprised of a foray between Adriana and the boxer who losses the fight in which Adriana is a part of the fashion show during the bout’s intermission. His name is Emilio Ricci (Mario Adorf), and he's incredibly likable; and carrying a briefcase which holds a photograph of a woman who Adriana presumes to be his girlfriend. It's not. "I can tell you the truth," he says to her, "I saw that picture in a photographer's shopwindow . . . and asked if I could have it."
The film nearly reaches the two-hour mark, and it probably won't grip you and keep you glued to your couch the entire time, as the plot, like Adriana, drifts and meanders. With that said, if you just want something beautiful and slightly tragic with a surprise ending to watch; and as a bonus, want to work on your Italian, then I Knew Her Well, unlike the men who dance into and out of Adriana's life, won't do you any harm.