Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Marcello Mastroianni and energetic ennui

"In the name of the Father, the Son..."
In his best roles, Marcello Mastroianni offered us a unique kind of detachment, call it energetic ennui. It's a tricky combination, light but brooding, gothic but with an appetite for fresh pasta.

An acceptance in the eyes
He was an actor unafraid of emotional extremes. Indeed, in La Dolce Vita, he is slapped about by existential ghosts, neutered in his quest for meaning, never knowing where to even begin the search. He plays a writer named Marcello (ah Fellini and his scattershot against the fourth wall) who must choose between evil (journalism) and good (fiction). The fact that this film gave us the term ‘paparazzi’ is a rather powerful clue of Fellini’s mind.

A unique kind of detachment
Marcello’s erotic baptism in the Trevi Fountain, with high priestess Anita Ekberg, is iconic, speaking a truth we are sadly too sophisticated to believe.

There was a resigned acceptance in his eyes that blessed humanity on its own terms, forever rendering him an ineffective villain. A love of life, and a playful, droll, gentle frolic with death. A leader who only wanted to follow. A passionate man who couldn’t stay mad. A devoted lover who left at dawn.

When he died the Trevi Fountain was turned off and draped in black. That says something. A baptismal font rarely offers an exit.