Michelangelo Antonioni's Red Desert is a challenging film about one woman's emotional/spiritual desolation from the rest of the world. The film opens up in a grim, barren landscape of dark gray skies, fog and rain. We are introduced to Guiliana (Monica Vitti), a housewife, whose husband is the plant manager at the factory which fills the barren landscape. We learn that Guiliana is mentally ill, presumably following an accident, but she seems to want to keep this from her husband. There seems to be some hinting at the fact that her husband isn’t around enough to take care of her and her son's emotional needs. She presumably keeps this illness to herself and begins to form an emotional bond with Zeller, one of her husband’s co-workers at the plant. As the film progresses, we follow Guilian's character as she falls farther and farther into this emotional isolation and eventually comes to the point of near mental breakdown. This is definitely Antonioni's most experimental work to date. He uses everything from the barren polluted landscapes of the factory, to the abandoned fishing cottages, to the behemoth docked ships of the sea to really create this desolate feeling in which Guiliana is experiencing. As to be expected by Antonioni, his calculated framing is prevalent as well, aiding in creating Guiliana's mood. Monica Vitti may give her most compelling performance in this film as a disaffected woman who really seems to just be lost in this bleak world. She is incredibly neurotic and it’s downright frightening to watch her character almost transcend into madness. I really think Antonioni understood the female form amazingly well, and it’s such an interesting performance and character arch to watch this character go through this journey. While Red Desert doesn't quite hold up to L'Eclisse, which is Antonioni's best film in my humble opinion; this is quite a fascinating film about emotional isolation and the effects it can cause. Antonioni's aesthetic choices are fascinating such as the shallow depth of field and color palette that both help to create this mood even more.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.