Juliet of the Spirits ( Giulietta degli spiriti )
"Are you real, yes or no?"
As I watched Juliet of the Spirits, Fellini's follow-up to the magnificent 8 1/2, I was reminded chiefly of The Cell, Tarsem Singh's bizarre 2000 Jennifer Lopez thriller. This may at first seem odd--The Cell, after all, is a disturbing horror/crime film while Juliet of the Spirits is a comedy/drama for which the word "Fellini-esque" seems to have been coined. What both films have in common is their creation of visually sumptuous worlds not justified by their contents. There is a lot to like about Fellini's first color work. It is full of life, full of bright costumes and stunning scenery and compositions (sometimes too bright and stunning). It has all the hallmarks of Fellini's great works (La Strada, La Dolce Vita, 8 1/2, Amarcord): the floating camera, the jaunty lyricism, the vision of humanity as a parade of grotesques. And Giulietta Masina's eponymous performance is wonderful, bringing a wistful sadness to a film that could otherwise be an unbearable 137 minute dream sequence. But for all its similarities to 8 1/2 and its visual wonderments it does not quite succeed. Fellini claims to be telling his wife's story this time around, a gift for her, but he has instead placed his wife in his own world and then asked "What's the problem?" The problem is Fellini makes no attempt to understand Juliet or her dissatisfaction--he only says perhaps if she were a bit more hedonistic, she wouldn't complain so much. This self-serving sentiment, while seemingly good-hearted, is a lesson that never quite takes.