The Fiancés

Like many a romance, it begins with a dance. But all is not well for fiancés Liliana and Giovanni. Young love has given way to perfunctory gestures, and hostility simmers beneath the surface. A cog in a massive petrochemical factory in Milan, Giovanni accepts a transfer to Sicily without consulting his future bride. Once there, however, he suffers not only the separation, but extreme loneliness and alienation. In The Fiancés, director Ermanno Olmi underscores the frightening nature of industrialism and its suffocation of rural culture. The factory is an aberration-an awesome mechanical monster that threatens to overtake the natural landscape. Can love, tradition, and family survive under such inhuman conditions? Olmi implicitly asks. The director's vision is not all doom, however; far from it, for Giovanni and Liliana write passionate letters and daydream, longing for their reunion. An astute critique of industrialism, The Fiancés is also an example of cinema that's dizzy with romance, a love story told in crisp, beautiful black-and-white.

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