Female Troubles

15 Nov 2013: La Cotta (DVD, 1967, Ermanno Olmi)

Even more than Il Posto this hour-length television feature depicts the sensitive, romantically forlorn young male that appears as prototype for the many subsequent protagonists of Wes Anderson, Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry, surrounding him as those directors do with failure and heartbreak but dark humor and an indefatigability of spirit. Also like these later filmmakers, at least the second two, divergent fantasy becomes a regular refuge for the main character, although here his premonitions of upcoming events – meeting up with his true love, dancing the night away with her – seamlessly continue from the present moment so effectively that one is never entirely sure they are not the actual next scenes until Olmi cuts back to the previous ones. Without caricaturizing or otherwise diminishing the various supporting players – a fog-addled taxi driver, an elder-sisterly party hostess, an elusive girlfriend – he makes them stand out as funny, unique, thoughtful, and personable, with lightness but also just enough gravity to make them real. The small drama of searching for love brings back the allure and pre-jaded excitement of adolescence while resounding as much for the ongoing awkwardnesses of adulthood.

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