Review: Conversation Piece
Blu-ray: Conversation Piece (1974)
A retired American professor (Burt Lancaster) lives a solitary and luxurious life in a house in Rome. His world takes an unexpected turn when he is forced to rent part of his house to a countess and her companions: a lover, a daughter and the daughter’s boyfriend. Forced into interaction with the unruly younger group, the professor’s growing fascination begins to stir the possibilities of a life he had previously kept at arm’s length.
Made eleven years after The Leopard, Luchino Visconti reteamed with iconic Burt Lancaster on Conversation Piece (original title: Gruppo di famiglia in un interno). I’m a huge fan of The Leopard, its opulence and grandeur, and of course story, is quite breath-taking and underlines Visconti’s genius as a film maker. I suppose one thing about Visconti’s films the viewer MUST remember is that he is Italian (yes I know, no brainer) but it’s hugely important as ‘Italianness’ exudes from every pore of every film. This is true with Conversation Piece.
Weirdly Burt Lancaster is NOT out of place in this film, even watching it with him dubbed in Italian isn’t weird, he fits in perfectly as a the ‘hero’ in each film mainly because of his quite earnest yet relaxed manner. The story itself is a early 70s Euro ‘Free love and examine your angst’ film, but also touches on the loneliness of Lancaster’s character. As with most 70s Euro films there is a lot of shouting and wringing of hands and a rather strange orgy/threesome. Personally I wouldn’t call it a classic, and it’s also unlikely I’d ever watch it again, but I did enjoy it, possibly because of Burt’s restrained acting and Silvana Mangano’s amazing eyebrows.
- 1080p transfer of the film from a brand new 2K restoration
- Features both the original English language soundtrack and the Italian dub track that was produced at the same time
- Optional English SDH (for the English track) and optional English subtitles for the Italian track
- Interview with critic and screenwriter Alessandro Bencivenni
- PLUS: Booklet featuring a new essay by Pasquale Iannone.