Most movies unfold before the audience while Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’Avventura evolves. After the first hour, a jumbled mystery becomes a disturbed romance. Audiences meet Claudia, Anna, Sandro, and their friends, all taking the day off on the shore of a barren rock island. They swim, they flirt, they argue, and then Anna goes missing.
The island is not home to any animal life, and its only residents are thousands of rough-edged boulders. Claudia and Sandro, Anna’s best friend and Anna’s boyfriend, both refuse to do anything until Anna is found. But after days of searching the island and towns close to the coast, what the two are really searching for becomes more obvious.
Most would say that it is love, but in all actuality, it is really just a search for something to do. They are searching for the sake of searching. Along the way, Claudia falls for the charms of Sandro, but neither lover is in love with the other, whether they realize it or not. And as both fail to do anything worth-while, we find that they seem incapable of genuinely loving anyone.
Antonioni’s skill in making this intriguing film can be caught in one shot. When Sandro and Claudia continue their search to an abandoned town, the camera is positioned in a view that seems to be peeking out of the shadows of a hotel. Are we perhaps, seeing the view of Anna? Is she hiding, never to be found by her seekers? Then we move, as their car moves out of the city, we watch longingly, but careful enough to not show ourselves. That one, single shot may be the answer to the film’s most compelling question.
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