Avanti! (Wilder, 1972)

Avanti! captures that certain magical essence of experiencing a foreign land for the first time, using the hypnotic hues of the Mediterranean seaside to illuminate the inherent healing powers of fresh perspective. The rush of American consumerism and arrogance gets put on hold, revealing the futility of such notions while allowing for a long Italian lunch filled with whimsical musings about fate and destiny. Wilder’s film is beautiful in every way, evoking a cinematic sensation only found in the best Lubitsch romances, where a glance, a kiss, and a smile say more about love than any words could. It’s also a film that sneaks up on you, morphing from a trifle comedy into a layered, political rumination on the dynamics of free-thinking perspective. The lovely narrative pace continuously churns with vibrant mise-en-scene and revelations of color and tone. Time passes without much concern for deadline or result, instead reveling in the moment of human connection, and Wilder’s characters learn to appreciate a much more rewarding slice of mutual indulgence. Even after the final silent goodbye, there’s a glaring hope the character’s lasting impressions will continue on long after the credits end, transcending the cynical and destructive outside world.

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