A man surrounded by everything he could possibly want is bored of his life. Could we even consider this tale a surprise? Gluttony and all the pangs of idleness and stifled lust that come with it take centre stage throughout Michelangelo Antonioni’s film here. From its cool, hippie funk soundtrack that was so usual for the time, to its deep-rooted 60s flair, Blow-Up channels clear iconography and does little else with it. So much effort is clear throughout, Antonioni works tirelessly to bring the story of a man wrapped up in a moment far removed from his world. Injecting passion and fear into his life once more, accidentally capturing the act of murder on his camera, Blow-Up hopes to strike unnerving prose, but misses the mark ever so slightly.
Under the throes of snootiness and stubbornness, Thomas (David Hemmings), is a surprisingly underwhelming character. He sifts through his work and his vague passions with little care for either, and it begins to question the audience as to why they should care. His lack of interest has pangs of anger underlying it, but Antonioni spends far too long building this up with chirpy acoustics backing the smouldering anger and restless days Thomas experiences. His happening upon a murder feels almost like a lucky break, we escape the monotony of his life and he is thrown into a spiralling state of villainy and surprise. Not that Hemmings would give it away, the quintessential feel of British performances at this time are rather underwhelming, and unfortunately Hemmings is the man that comes up short.
He is not without merit, but there is a general lack of constructive moments that he plays a part in. Undeniably invested in the story, but a performance that feels rather bland and one-note. There are only so many scenes of Thomas swanning around the streets taking photos and being a bit of a snob, far more than I could handle. There is a good performance buried underneath the lack of care or interest present in this leading man, but surrounding him are supporting performers who offer little else. The big reveal and the ending are strong, but anything before it just comes across as rather disjointed and underwhelming. There is no denying that the craftsmanship on display is of a strong technical quality, but the emotion and artistry is lost somewhere in the editing room.
A bit meandering and aimless at times, but at least the cast and crew are enjoying themselves. Blow-Up is a fine experience, but it clearly could have been so much more. Rather upsetting it may be to be underwhelmed by such an apparent titan and influencer, it is perhaps sometimes inevitable to clash with classics. Frustrating it may be to see where a film is going and why and still fail to connect with it, Blow-Up has such an uninteresting lead that it shatters all merits of story, style and substance to be found in the pockets of brilliance that do linger within, however few and far between they may be. If anything, they are the moments that need to be blown up.