Hollow dreamers and ambitious deceit mark I Vitelloni as a unique feature hoping to prey on the ideation of its audience. To get to the core of their hopes and dreams is the desire, and the effect it causes once there is remarkable. Community spirit brought together by the intimacy of wandering through a town. Starting on the pier, snaking through the tables and the people, there is a custom to Federico Fellini’s direction here that brings about the intimacy required to connect with those who dream of bigger and better futures. But what good are aspirations if they’re turned to gluttony and self-preservation? I Vitelloni hopes to uncover not the conclusion, but the journey to the realisation of absurdity.
A natural behind the camera guides the group of five at the forefront, with Fellini pairing these characters nicely with one another. They have their individual downfalls but never appear all that dislikeable. The balance is struck neatly and wisely. Drawing from the influence of trundling societal changes of 1950s Italy as well as from the background of Fellini himself, I Vitelloni strikes a chord and sticks with it. There is a necessary, underlying tenderness to the actions of Moraldo Rubini (Franco Interlenghi) and the friends that rally around him. They are all with their downfalls, but those that can overcome them are set to receive a far better quality of life. Fellini explores that with a tenacity expected of the Italian director, whose work here sees an active shift to sincere, human-focused drama. It could happen to anyone; Fellini appears to warn.
Fellini crafts I Vitelloni intending to explore how killing time is killing the self. Shuffling from building to building with an end in sight but no journey to take is a morbidly depressing act of self-degradation that these characters involve themselves with to varying degrees. For those that relate or watch I Vitelloni and are struck by some fear or desire to move on, then Fellini has achieved his intention. The slacker’s remorse caused by their generation and that before it, because of socio-political issues that have led to the extrapolation of self-value and cultural instinct. Chilling, to say the least, and still applicable in the context of modern times.
To dream life away is, Fellini appears to believe, very different from pushing forward to those dreams. It is easier to think of a goal than to reach it, and I Vitelloni is a kick in the right direction for such a claim. Everyone who has ever hoped of aspiring to a little more than their surroundings can offer can feel the shame, the ambition, and the fear present in I Vitelloni. Connect with that. Embrace the feeling of discomfort found in this Fellini masterpiece, a feature that prides itself on accepting that the out is often an escape and a risk rather than a placid life of chasing sins and sticking around in the hometown that caused the fear in the first place.