Identification of a Woman
Time Out saysVery much the film of an elder statesman arrogantly conscious of being the most 'modern' director of his generation. It is a contemporary love story - based upon a film-maker's chance encounters with two women - designed to bury the controversies of his courageous video manifesto (The Oberwald Mystery) and to regain access to Hollywood. Visually this is perhaps Antonioni's most beautiful film to date, effortlessly fleshing out familiar themes around the difficulties of establishing relationships in our times. But there is much more. Most notably, a refreshing irony prevents the hardened art house pundit from wallowing in nostalgia and the metaphysics of 'portentous messages'. Emphasis is very much on the 'investigation' suggested by the title rather than possible meanings to be derived from it. Everything in the film comes in twos: two women from different social and sexual backgrounds, two films about to be made, two extraordinary key sequences - the first enshrouded in thick fog, the other in the desolation of the Venetian lagoon. In the end the central character chooses not to make his film about the 'ideal woman' but to lose himself in a space oddity with skull-like spacecrafts journeying towards the sun. Probably not a sign of Spielbergian things to come from Antonioni - more a subdued admission from the 'apostle of incommunicability' that the best place for alienation these days is in megabuck fantasies.