Written by: Michael Den Boer on January 9th, 2015
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1960
Director: Antonio Pietrangeli
Writers: Ruggero Maccari, Antonio Pietrangeli, Tullio Pinelli, Ettore Scola
Cast: Simone Signoret, Sandra Milo, Emmanuelle Riva, Gina Rovere, Claudio Gora, Gianrico Tedeschi, Antonio Rais, Marcello Mastroianni
BluRay Released: January 20th, 2015
Approximate running time: 126 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / VC-1 Video
Sound: DTS-HD Mono Italian
BluRay Release: Raro Video USA
Region Encoding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.98
Synopsis: A new law leads to the closure of all legalized brothels, making all prostitution illegal. Now out of work and with nowhere to live, four prostitutes pool together their money and open a restaurant in the remote countryside. Unfortunately their tainted past intersects with the new life they are trying to forge. Down, but not out they reach out to an old associate, who helps them secure the license they need to open their restaurant. Only in order for them to pay this associate back, they are forced back into the life they are trying to leave behind.
After a brief opening setup in which we are introduced to the life that the four main characters are about to leave behind. The film quickly shifts into a character driven melodrama that gives each of these four characters stories an ample amount of time to develop. It is also once the story shifts away from these opening moments at the brothel that is about to close that this film’s finally starts to take shape. With the film’s saving it’s best and most powerful moments for its final act. In which all four of the main characters have come full circle. After one last act of defiance against the life they no longer want to be part of.
Whether it be its striking black & white cinematography that is rooted in Neorealism or its atmospheric score that was composed by Piero Piccioni (The 10th Victim, Camille 2000). This are not a single are where this production does not excel.
Not to be overlooked is this film’s extraordinary cast which includes Simone Signoret (Les diaboliques) in the role of Adua, Sandra Milo (Juliet of the Spirits) in the role of Lolita, Emmanuelle Riva (Hiroshima Mon Amour) in the role of Marilina and Gina Rovere (Big Deal on Madonna Street) in the role of Milly. Another performance of note is Marcello Mastroianni understated performance in the role of Piero, a playboy hustler that Adua becomes attached too.
Adua is the eldest member of this quartet and she often serves as the mother like figure, who makes sure that everything that needs to be done is taken care of. Lolita is a free spirited flirt, who has a boy friend that often tries to get her involved in his latest financial schemes. Marilina is the most unpredictable of these four characters. She often suffers from mood swings. She is also the only character, who has a child. Rounding out this quartet of characters is Milly, who’s naivety leads to her losing her one chance at happiness.
For every action, there are consequences and ultimately it is from our actions that are destiny’s are forged. Here in lies the underlying theme which runs throughout this film. Sure on the surface this is a story about four prostitutes and yet there is no nudity or sexual acts with these four characters in the entire film.
Adua and Her Friends comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. For this release a new HD transfer has been created from an original 35mm negative print. Details look crisp, black levels look very good and there are no issues with compression. Contrast levels farewell and there is mild use of DNR that varies in degree throughout. And though grain is noticeable throughout, it is more prominent in some scenes then others.
This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD Mono mix in Italian and also included with this release are removable English subtitles. The audio sounds clear, balanced and robust when it needs too.
Extras for this release include a text based biography and filmography for director Antonio Pietrangeli, a introduction to the film with Italian film critic Maurizio Porro (6 minutes 57 seconds – 4:3 full frame, in Italian with English subtitles) and a short film also directed by Antonio Pietrangeli titled ‘Girandola 1910′ (10 minutes 31 seconds – 1.33:1 full frame, in Italian with English subtitles). The video introduction covers a lot of ground despite its brevity and it does a superb job putting this film and its director into perspective. The short film included with this release is one of five segments that make up the 1954 film Amori di mezzo secolo (Mid-Century Loves). Rounding out the extras is a twelve page booklet with essays about the film, a text bio and a filmography for Antonio Pietrangeli and quotes about the film from various critics. Overall Adua and Her Friends gets its strongest home video presentation to date.