I finally sat down to watch Fellini’s 8 1/2, a film that’s been ranked as one of the all time greats. I can see why, but I also couldn’t finish it. It’s a director’s film not a writer’s film.
Fellini achieved some visual magic for sure but the writing in it – the dialogue, the actions – are after a while quite maddening. Yet the film is stylistically flawless, and it feels as if it hasn’t aged that much some 40 or 50 years later. Most of the performances hold up as well, especially the protagonist and the people closest to him. It’s just that the actual film is difficult to watch the more it goes on. The tortured feelings of an artist that it portrays quite well in some ways are what make it a hard pill to swallow.
There’s not much of a story there, a director trying to get a movie together, who begins to doubt himself amid a circus of showbiz types and members of the Catholic Church. But even describing it like that isn’t actually what it’s about because so much of it is just about the things happening in between getting the movie together.
So the reason why I needed a break from it 20 minutes out from it’s end was the ceaseless, nonsense dialogue that got too much for me. By that point in the movie there are these hallucinatory scenes, which coupled with dialogue that sounds like people complaining constantly, which it pretty much was, I could feel my own sanity slipping. The dialogue does not stop. No one stops talking, there are no silences, no breaks. It’s fine for the most part but something clicked about that and I clocked off.
So this movie is the type of movie where you need to drink a lot of coffee to watch it and preferably in the morning when you have nothing to do. Neither of which I did. But I will. I’ll finish it off and give it a 5/5 for driving me crazy just because of how well it’s shot, how unique it is.