In which I attempt to watch every film in The Criterion Collection and end up watching a lot that aren't. Click here for the rating system.


Nights of Cabiria

"What is it with hookers?"

I'll be honest; I wasn't crazy about this movie. The "hooker with a heart of gold" theme, to me, is tiresome and overdone. There must be something there that I'm not seeing. But, having said that, Frederico Fellini films beg watching. They pull you in. Giuletta Masina (Fellini's wife) stars in this early film which won him a second Oscar (Best Foreign Film) and her a Cannes Award (Best Actress).

When this film gets reviewed, a lot of words like "naivete" and "waiflike" get bandied about. And even though these words do describe the lead character, they are also somewhat misleading. All hookers with a heart of gold are naive (in the sense that they are trusting enough to really fall in love with someone). Dolly Parton's hooker was naive, but in control. Julia Roberts' hooker was naive, but also elegant and bizarrely fortunate. Giuletta Masina's hooker is none of these things. And this is what I found fascinating. She teeters on the edge of extinction. Unlike Parton and Roberts, there's nothing glamerous about her life. She swaggers like a miniature, W.C. Fields, but her swagger is a front. She's quite vulnerable. Quite fragile. And the film refuses to protect her. She proves she is capable of love, but incapable of protecting herself from the world she lives in. She's the anti-hooker.

Fellini once said that Cabiria was the only character he still worries about. And you understand why when you watch this film.

Favorite Moments: Cabiria at the beginning, Cabiria at the end.


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