The third feature film by cinema master Michelangelo Antonioni, La signora senza camelie [The Lady Without Camelias], expanded the expressive palette of contemporary Italian movies, demonstrating that a personal vision could take an explicitly poetic tack; that “seriousness = neo-realism” was perhaps already turning into something of a truism; and that Antonioni would answer to no-one but himself.
It’s the story of a shopclerk named Clara (played by the captivating Lucia Bosè, also of Antonioni’s brilliant debut feature, Cronaca di un amore) who finds a chance casting in a small movie role develop into a full-blown career as screen-siren. Tension erupts when her husband can no longer tolerate watching her frivolous cinema escapades, and pushes her into a “serious, artistic” production of the life of Joan of Arc… whereupon she is castigated by the critical establishment.
A riveting ‘behind-the-scenes’ show-business drama, La signora senza camelie explores themes that would haunt its director from L’avventura through La notte and The Passenger — an individual’s tenuous hold on her identity, and the dangers inherent to performance… in life and on-screen. (Masters of Cinema)
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