Indentification of a woman (1982))

‘Identification Of A Woman’, the last masterpiece of Michelangelo Antonioni

Rome, 1982. We follow the midlife crisis of a successful film director. It is quite common for great directors such as Michelangelo Antonioni to write, direct, and edit films that come across as autobiographical; but Identification of a woman goes beyond the struggles of an intellectual artist and has definitely much more to say about the biases of the great (Italian) film directors of the past decades.

Niccolò is a divorced film director in search of the next female face to star in his next film—for which he has yet to find the subject. On this voyage to break his creative and romantic block, he roams the streets of Rome and Venice, where he meets two charming and mysterious women. Although you will find yourself in an erotic feast, you shouldn’t get mistaken; this is not a classic Italian romance. Here, Antonioni is still discovering his favourite themes – existential anxiety and sexual obsession – but he masters the turn to a radical representation of the female in cinema. Mavi and Ida are both strong women, with femme mullet hairstyles and androgynous dressings. “They share the same fanaticism, covertness, risk.” They are not hidden in mirror reflections. They are leading the frame of Antonioni, as much as they lead the preoccupations of Niccolò.
Indentification of a woman (1982))
That said, the film has a considerable collection of astonishing shots that play well with the aristocratic Italian environment. Great enough to hold the attention from the uncomfortable soft porn scenes. And it is definitely a study in the use of mirrors and windows. Funny enough, but the signature shot of the film is the extended, suffocating scene on a fog-enshrouded highway.

Identification of a woman has been orchestrated with piano tunes and sadness. It is an obscure drama that doesn’t take anything seriously. It has a (surprise) dose of science fiction and some refreshing peculiarity that can only enchant even the most demanding audience. That is why it is considered to be Antonioni’s last masterpiece. Back in 1982, it was awarded with the 35th Anniversary Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

Available now in 2022, it gets re-released digitally and on Blu-ray by CultFilms.