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A self-made woman, coming from humble means, travels to Turin to scout locations for her successful beauty salon chain. At the hotel, she encounters some upper-middle class bourgeoise women to whom she finds herself drawn into their friendships.
For more about Le Amiche and the Le Amiche Blu-ray release, see Le Amiche Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on March 18, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Eleonora Rossi Drago, Gabriele Ferzetti, Franco Fabrizi
Director: Michelangelo Antonioni
» See full cast & crew
Le Amiche Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, March 18, 2011
Michelangelo Antonioni's "Le Amiche" a.k.a "The Girlfriends" (1955) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Eureka Entertainment. The supplemental features on the disc include short introduction and a video interview with film critic and teacher Gabe Clinger. The disc also arrives with a lengthy booklet containing newly translated critical pieces about the film, excerpts of interviews with Antonioni, and more. In Italian, with optional English subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
Clelia (Eleonora Rossi Drago, Violent Summer, Camille 2000), a young and very ambitious woman from Rome, has returned to her native Turin where she has landed her dream job - managing a chic fashion house.
While staying in one of the city's top hotels, Clelia discovers an unconscious woman in one of the rooms. Soon it becomes obvious that the woman has tried to commit suicide because she has fallen in love with a man who is already in a serious relationship. The heartbroken woman's name is Rosetta (Madeleine Fischer, The Bachelor).
Through Rosetta, Clelia befriends a group of wealthy women and men - Momina (Yvonne Furneaux, La Dolce Vita, Repulsion), an overconfident beauty who likes to be in control; Nene (Valentina Cortese, Day for Night, Juliet of the Spirits), a talented artist who is engaged to an egoistic man (Gabriele Ferzetti, L'avventura, Machine Gun McCain) whose secret life is slowly spinning out of control; and Mariella (Anna Maria Pancani, The Bachelor), a capricious, flirtatious and conceited beauty who does not mind kissing on a first date. While the fashion house is getting rebuilt and decorated, Clelia also befriends the chief architect's assistant, Carlo (Ettore Manni, Mademoiselle).
The more time Clelia spends with her new friends, the more she begins to realize how incredibly unstable their lives are. The women have everything they want but are constantly dissatisfied and frustrated with their relationships. The men they meet and have affairs with always fail to meet their expectations.
Eventually, Clelia understands why. She also attempts to get closer to Carlo, who is disliked by her friends because of his working-class background. Carlo loves spending time with Clelia, but he is unable to overcome the feeling that they are simply not right for each other.
With the exception of Clelia, all of the main protagonists in Michelangelo Antonioni's Le Amiche are love addicts. They constantly need a fix. When love is in short supply, their personalities immediately change – they become angry, jealous, depressed, and even suicidal.
It takes awhile for Clelia to understand her friends. In the beginning she assumes that they are simply the most eccentric people she has ever connected with. But later on she realizes that they are actually products of their environment, obsessed with quantity not quality. Unsurprisingly, their endless love affairs are always short-lived, disappointing, and painful.
Le Amiche is not as pessimistic as many of Atonioni's later films, specifically Red Desert and Zabriskie Point, but it definitely harbors plenty of the same coldness they exude. In one of the film's most dramatic sequences Clelia is seen at giant train station trying to phone Carlo, hoping to see him one last time before she leaves Turin. A man approaches her and attempts to engage her in a conversation, but she treats him simply as an object. This is typical Antonioni - it is a beautiful, very elegant sequence, but also enormously sad.
Le Amiche (The Girlfriends) is based on Cesare Pavese's novel Tra donne sole ( Among Women Only), but the film's narrative is slightly updated. In the novel there is a prominent lesbian affair, which Antonioni omitted. Pavese committed suicide shortly after completing his novel.
Note: In 1955, Le Amiche won Silver Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival. A year later, the film won Silver Ribbon Awards for Best Director and Best Supporting Actress (Valentina Cortese).
Le Amiche Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.34:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Michelangelo Antonioni's Le Amiche arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Eureka Entertainment.
I was very impressed with how La signora senza camelie looked on Blu-ray, but Le Amiche looks even better. Frankly, comparing the old R1 SDVD release of the film, which Image Entertainment produced in 2001, with this fabulous new Blu-ray release is absolutely pointless - the gap in quality between the two is enormous. The SDVD transfer was interlaced, blocky, marred by endless scratches and heavy edge-enhancement, etc. I mean, you name it, the SDVD transfer had it.
A lot has changed since 2001. Le Amiche was recently restored by Cineteca del Comune di Bologna with funding provided by The Film Foundation and Gucci and it really is quite unbelievable how good the film looks now. Fine object detail and clarity are simply fantastic, while the balanced contrast levels far exceeded even my wildest expectations. For example, at very end of the film, where Clelia is seen leaving Turin, I could see various objects that I was never able to see on the SDVD release -- this is how dramatic the improvements are. Color reproduction is also excellent; the variety of whites, grays, and blacks are now well balanced and incredibly stable (the beach sequence looks breathtakingly beautiful). Edge-enhancement and macroblocking are never an issue of concern. I also did not see any traces of heavy noise corrections; on the contrary, there is an excellent, very consistent light layer of grain throughout the entire film. Lastly, the film has been thoroughly cleaned up - there are absolutely no cuts, large damage marks, or debris. Fantastic release! (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Le Amiche Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: Italian DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. For the record, Eureka Entertainment have provided optional English subtitles for the main feature.
The audio treatment is as impressive as the video treatment. For example, the irregular background hiss present on the R1 SDVD has been effectively addressed. Overall stability has also been improved dramatically. The dialog is crisp, clean, stable, and exceptionally easy to follow. Lastly, there are no audio dropouts to report in this review.
Le Amiche Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Le Amiche Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
As far as I am concerned, thus far this is the British Blu-ray release of the year. Michelangelo Antonioni's Le Amiche looks stunning, the best it ever has. Period. I really hope now that L'Avventura, La notte, and L'Eclisse are not too far behind. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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Le Amiche Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Carlotta Films to Release Michelangelo Antonioni's Le Amiche - July 2, 2013
French label Carlotta Films will release on Blu-ray legendary Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni's Le Amiche a.k.a Femmes entre elles (1955), starring Eleonora Rossi Drago, Valentina Cortese, Yvonne Furneaux, Gabriele Ferzetti, and Franco Fabrizi. The release ...
• Eureka Announces Two Antonioni Films on Blu-ray - February 7, 2011
Eureka Entertainment has announced two early films from Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni for Blu-ray release on March 21: La signora senza camelie (1953) and Le Amiche (1955). The latter features a recent restoration by Cineteca di Bologna, L'Immagine Ritrovata, ...
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