The Fiances | Chicago Reader

The Fiances

Ermanno Olmi followed up his first big success, Il Posto, with this striking 1962 portrait of a Milanese engineer (Carlo Cabrini) whose relationship with his fiancee (Anna Canzi) suffers after he relocates to Sicily for 18 months to help open a steel factory. Olmi supplies only the hint of a plot, defining the hero through the friction between his emotional needs and the incessant rhythm of work. The film documents the various familial and cultural dislocations of industrialism: in a residential hotel, men stare vacantly at TV; at the factory office, a woman shows up for work with her children in tow; and on the construction site, workers are dwarfed by the harsh geometry of cables and girders. Yet Olmi punctuates his social observation with bursts of montage that draw us deep inside the engineer's consciousness, an effect that builds to a dazzling romantic crescendo as he sits in his cheap boardinghouse, reading a letter from his love. In Italian with subtitles. 76 min.

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