Nights of Cabiria ★★★★★

Giullieta Masina’s complete command of the screen at every moment in this film is simply incredible. The secret ingredient to her charisma as a performer stems from her wonderfully expressive eyes and smile, and her kinetic, playful gait and dance. It’s such a completely different role from Gelsomina in La Strada. Here as Cabiria, she is fierce, forceful, and delightfully outspoken. The commonality of the two iconic roles is their endearing sweetness and vulnerability.

Her husband Fellini is smart to always point the camera right at her, completely face-on, rarely in profile, and sparingly in detached wides. We see Masina animatedly react to her surroundings: decadent nightclubs, excessive mansions, and depressing homeless shelters out in the field. We see all the glamour and the cruelty of Fellini’s world through her eyes. The film successfully makes you feel that you’re walking in her shoes.

There are many familiar Felliniesque sights to behold here, such as mass Catholic gatherings, gaudy, exotic performances, and engaging magic tricks. All of it comes together to create something truly perfect and beautiful.

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