La Dolce Vita is widely regarded as the end of Federico Fellini’s neorealism stage and the beginning of his art-house stage of features. It is very artsy, indeed, and enjoys playing with its own conventions. Still, this does at least have a running continuity, albeit one presented through a series of vignettes.
This is yet another film that seems to not be concerned with having a plot, per se, rather than just following one man through his everyday life. In some ways, this can be tritely annoying, but I can’t fault the film for doing so; it can do whatever it wants with its story, it belongs to the film. Just know this before going into the film, and as long as you’re expecting it you can prepare yourself for the experience. As for the film itself, it is very unusual, and tries hard to be unstraightforward in what it is presenting to us. The film is at once a celebration and a send-up of the high-class celebrity life that paparazzi and journalists like our main character thrive on like flies over dead meat. It is a very playful film, and one that indulges in its subject matter as voraciously as it can.
All in all, I didn’t find much substance in La Dolce Vita, and I kinda gathered that that was part of the point of how the film was made. It forgoes conventional narrative to force you to focus on the stripped-down lifestyle study. It’s effective, though not always entertaining, and it has quite the hefty running time, but this is a classic that hardworkingly earns its spot on the must see list.
Arbitrary Rating: 8/10