Hopes and Disappointments: Il Posto (1961)

Domenico

Life in the working world isn’t exactly turning out the way Domenico Cantoni (Sandro Panseri) might have hoped it would.

Ermanno Olmi’s 1961 film Il Posto is an understated, often documentary-like look at a young man — a boy, really — entering the workforce for the first time. “This is the chance of a lifetime. If you get in there, you’ve got a job for life,” his mother tells him as he sets off for a job interview at a large company in Milan, the nearest city to his small hometown. (He wants to be a surveyor, but because his younger brother is still in school, he has to go to work instead of furthering his own education.) Upon arriving, he finds himself part of a large group of potential employees — most about his own age, a few significantly older. Together, they undergo a series of tests, from math problems to physical fitness examinations to some downright bizarre questions. (“Does the future seem hopeless to you? Do you suffer from frequent itching? Did you wet the bed between the ages of eight and fourteen?”) Despite the intrusiveness of some of this, it all feels rather impersonal. The only real point of interest for Domenico is meeting and befriending one of his fellow applicants, a girl named Antonietta who goes by the nickname Magalì (Loredana Detto). When they both end up getting hired, Domenico looks forward to the chance to spend more time with her — and is immediately disappointed.

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A Separation: I Fidanzati (1963)

Dance Hall

“We’ve been sweethearts for so long, so many years. More than sweethearts — you know what I mean — but we’ve never really spoken the way two lovers should. We each kept our thoughts to ourselves and were content just being together. But perhaps our being together was becoming a mere habit. Perhaps we didn’t realize we were each still alone.”

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Driving Through Fog: La Cotta (1967)

andrea

Andrea (Luciano Piergiovanni) may only be a fifteen-year-old Milanese schoolboy (“Let’s say sixteen,” he suggests), but he prefers to view himself as a man of the world, especially when it comes to romance. “Every guy has his own technique for picking up girls,” he explains. “Some feign indifference. Some are very passionate, but that’s not in at the moment. Some act tough, but most guys act sad — who knows why, but falling in love makes them sad and surly. They look preoccupied. My technique, very little used but perhaps the most effective, is to use ideas and self-control. I talk and talk until they’re totally confused, and the trick is done.” Although Ermanno Olmi’s 1967 made-for-television movie La Cotta (or, in English, The Crush) runs a mere forty-nine minutes, Andrea manages to do a good bit of talking in that time; he also proves that he’s not immune to total confusion himself.

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