I know it’s fondly remembered but – whisper it – Anonimo Veneziano really isn’t a very good film.
The plot, if you don’t know it, is simple enough. Enrico (Tony Musante) invites his ex-wife Valeria (Florinda Bolkan) to visit him in Venice. They walk around, have lunch, he tells her he’s dying of a brain tumour. They walk around some more, go back to his apartment on Giudecca, have sex, walk around a bit more. And then, finally, Enrico conducts Alessandro Marcello’s concerto for oboe and strings in the church of San Vidal. Valeria, possibly realising she still loves him, leaves for her train.
Musante had just finished The Bird with the Crystal Plumage and, indeed, had previously worked with Bolkan on Metti, una sera a cena. Bolkan herself had worked with Visconti, and would go on to work with directors as wildly diverse as Vittorio de Sica and Lucio Fulci. The actors are not the problem here : the trouble is that the characters they inhabit are not particularly likeable and endless scenes of them fighting and then reconciling in the damp Venetian streets become wearing.
Of course, it looks good. But it’s not difficult to use Venice in the winter as a metaphor for death and decay. Nicolas Roeg, in Don’t Look Now, used it as part of a profound meditation on loss. Here it just seems like window dressing. Very pretty window dressing, of course, but that’s not enough.
The real star here – and perhaps the reason it’s so fondly remembered – is Stelvio Cipriani’s score and, in particular, the main theme. It’s a lovely thing, and manages to carry more emotional weight than the film it accompanies.
Do you need to see it? Well, it’s just over 90 minutes, you see a lot of Venice (albeit in a fairly random order) and there’s Cipriani’s music. I’d say it’s worth a watch. Just don’t expect too much.