City of Women

Movies, Comedy
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City of Women

Awkwardly, Fellini feels way behind the curve with this besieged fantasy about female revolution.

Only months before the debut of this weird fantasy-cum-nightmare, Dudley Moore floundered (expertly) as an inept womanizer in 10—and only months later, the ladies of Nine to Five took control. Suffice it to say, 1980 was not a good year to be Federico Fellini. He fell into the awkward middle ground of helplessly adoring women, objectifying them and viewing feminism as glibly as Borat.

City of Women puts a serious strain on one’s love for a major director. As Snàporaz, a graying 50-year-old wolf with eyes that don’t wander so much as go AWOL, Marcello Mastroianni submits to Fellini’s idea of a mysterious colony of furious females who rain down comeuppance. They skate circles around him in a roller rink, they shoot down his balloon with a machine gun (could be a metaphor), and they abandon him repeatedly.

It doesn’t help that Fellini himself did a finer job puncturing male ego in Casanova (1976). Then again, City of Women gives voice to real anxieties, particularly from the perspective of Snàporaz’s breaking-down wife (Anna Prucnal, the sharpest performance in the film). Mainly, though, Fellini ogles Italian sex bomb Donatella Damiani (who went on to do nude modeling) and turns real frustration into comedy. Too clearly, we know where his sympathies lie.

Follow Joshua Rothkopf on Twitter: @joshrothkopf

By: Joshua Rothkopf


Release details

Rated: R
Release date: Friday February 19 2016
Duration: 139 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Federico Fellini
Screenwriter: Brunello Rondi
Cast: Marcello Mastroianni
Anna Prucnal
Bernice Stegers
Iole Silvani
Donatella Damiani
Ettore Manni
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