La NotteI started with Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’Avventura so I might as well continue with Antonioni’s loose trilogy about modernity and its discontents. Today’s Sunday Matinee is 1961’s La Notte (The Night).

La Notte follows a married couple through the course of one night. The couple played by Jeanne Moreau and Marcello Mastroianni are and have been drifting apart for sometime. They first go visit a friend in the hospital who is dying. Moreau is taking it especially hard. She leaves telling the dying man that she’ll come back tomorrow. Mastroianni has just published a successful novel and they then attend a party celebrating the novel’s publication. Mastroianni is in his element at the party while Moreau is bored and alone. She eventually leaves the party.

Moreau ends up in an old neighbourhood where she and Mastorianni first lived. She witnesses a street fight and eventually calls Mastorianni to come pick her up. They then go to another party. The rest of the night is similar, the unhappy couple attend one party after another and they both wander off at various times. Mastroianni discovers Monica Vitti and Moreau discovers that their friend in the hospital has died during the night. Moreau later finds her own gentleman caller but eventual rejects him. Mastroianni and Moreau continue on their way.

Antonioni had come up with the idea for La Notte a couple of years before he made L’Avventura. He had attended a party where he noticed little episodes happening to people and he wanted to make a movie about that. He wasn’t happy with his story at the time but he kept reworking it. After he made L’Avventura he knew how he wanted to tackle the story and reworked it again.

The movie has the same stylish slow moving loose structure that L’Avventura has but La Notte seems a little deeper and more defined with the two lead characters. This isn’t a case of two people kind of falling in lust with each other while going through the motions of looking for a lost friend, this is a couple who clearly have a distance between them that seems to grow as the night continues. It’s not quite L’Avventura but it’s still a great film.