Interview-Review: Roberto Rossellini’s Journey to Italy (1954)

viaggio in italia
Since this is the first so-called interview-review, I’ll have to explain what it is. Basically, it’s a new way to give the reader essential information about the film without writing a structured review. Instead I’ll be asking myself five standard questions (which apply to any movie) and then answer them briefly. The aim is to condense everything I’d write in a normal review, but make it easier and quicker for the fast reader to detect. Why did I make this thing up? To offer more variety. Mini-reviews, reviews, essays and three/five Reasons all target different types of readers. Some people prefer to read in-depth thoughts (reviews or essays), other people are lazy (myself included) and look for keywords instead (three/five reasons, mini-reviews or the new interview-reviews). Also, by asking myself these questions and having a conversational tone, I want to implicitly invite and inspire readers to answer them as well. You can always leave a comment. I always appreciate it.

This and more interview-reviews will be available in the Briefly section of the blog, along with the mini-reviews. Be sure to let me know what you think of this idea and if you agree with me on Roberto Rossellini’s Journey to Italy. Thanks and enjoy!

1) What’s Journey to Italy about?
Viaggio in Italia, sorry but I prefer the original Italian title, you know I’m fancy like that. The film is about this married couple who goes to Italy to sell the villa of a deceased uncle. As soon as they arrive they realize their marriage is in trouble and they’re far away from each other (emotionally), like strangers almost. The whole movie basically explores where they are and how they feel about each other and whether they’re willing to make it work, still love each other etc. It’s really good.

2) Well, that was actually my next question: What did you like about the film?
Oh, I didn’t mean to anticipate you there.

That’s okay…
Yeah, so what I liked about this movie is that it sort of grows on you. In the moment I wasn’t feeling it particularly, but thinking about it today (I watched it last night) I realized how good it is. Like for example the cinematography by Enzo Serafin, it’s not something that jumps at you as you watch it, but there are some haunting shots so the film looks truly great. Roberto Rosselini was a neorealist, so he’s all about realism, so of course his cinematography wouldn’t be something stylized or glossy, but subtle. I love that.

I also love movies about relationships with loose plots, so yeah this was right up my alley. Plus, I’m just a big fan of this period of Italian cinema.

3) What could have been better or what would you have done differently?
I’m not the biggest Ingrid Bergman fan. For some reason I just don’t like her. I don’t get why everyone else seems to. I know I’m definitely the minority here, but I don’t think she’s that great of an actress and seeing her face on-screen just annoys me. I would have cast someone else for sure. I think I would have loved this movie even more if it wasn’t her. She’s not bad or anything, in this particular film, but I just dislike her. It’s totally irrational, I know.

4) Wow. I totally want to break off the interview at this point, because fuck you! But we have two more questions for you…
Who would you recommend this film to?

Well that was rude. Anyway, I think that people who enjoy art house cinema will love this. If you love black & white this is for you. If you like Italian cinema, Rossellini. I actually liked the acting overall George Sanders and yes, Ingrid Bergman. Yeah, so this film is on one of those Sight & Sound lists, so if you’re a completist you really have no choice.

5) One last question.
Is there anything you’d like to add, any random thoughts, something on your mind in relation to the film?

No, just I’d like to encourage people to seek out these “older” films. They may seem boring and stuff, and it definitely takes some getting used to, but it’s totally worth it. I always have to push myself as well, but then I never regret it and I always discover a lot of gems. If you truly love cinema, you owe it to yourself. Also, Martin Scorsese himself recommend this film in his similarly titled documentary My Voyage to Italy, that’s actually where I first heard of the film.

Rating on First Viewing: 7.5 out of 10

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