Le Amiche

Excavated from the deep '50s, Michelangelo Antonioni's 1955 Le Amiche (known in English as The Girlfriends) is an unexpected treasure. Thirtysomething fashion designer Clelia (Eleonora Rossi Drago) returns from Rome to her hometown, Turin, to oversee the opening of a new boutique and, thanks to a young woman's failed suicide attempt, falls in with a group of wealthy ladies (and future customers). Like the Monica Vitti character in L'avventura, she's the responsible working girl kibitzing a circle of self-indulgent airheads. This Sex and the City setup is complicated by the presence of a masochistic ceramicist (high-strung Valentina Cortese) married to a philandering failed artist (Gabriele Ferzetti, who'd play a similar role in L'avventura), and Clelia's own flirtation with the humbly dumb but hunky foreman on her construction site. Although relatively plotless, Le Amiche is baroque by Antonioni's later standards. The various failed love affairs are enlivened by emotional confrontations and even a full-fledged brawl. (NR) J. HOBERMAN

Sept. 10-15, 7 & 9 p.m.; Sept. 11-12, 5 p.m., 2010

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