Identification of a Woman is an Italian film directed by Michelangelo Antonioni. It was originally released in 1982, and was released on Criterion Blu-Ray on October 25th, 2011 as spine #585. This marked Antonioni’s sixth film to be selected for the collection, the others being: La Notte (Spine #678), L’elisse (Spine #278), Red Desert (Spine #522), L’Avventura (Spine #98), and for writing, Frederico Fellini’s The White Shiek (Spine #189).
After his wife leaves him, director Niccolo begins to work on his new film. During this period, he spends time searching for a leading woman for both his film and his own life.
There are two points of emphasis that are imperative when talking about the work of Antonioni: his camera work and his set pieces. There are hundreds of examples of his ability scattered throughout Identification of a Woman, but where this film truly excels is in its persistent trip through human sexuality and relationship. In the initial relationship with Mavi, there is nothing more desirable within the human experience than their interaction. The second extended relationship works when Niccolo struggles with his avoidance of the truth. This man had lost his wife previously and is now striving to replace this void, but his inability to step out of his own way haunts him and drives him to loneliness.
Among all of the realized interpretations that helps this film earn commendation for its inspiration and exploration, there is one prominent reading that stands above the rest. Identification of a Woman plays as a commentary on a director’s creative process and works as a comparison of women to nature and offers a compassionate nod to the mystery of life. This thematic current is signified by exchanges of dialogue, direct conversation between Niccolo and Mario about how dialogue can exist in imagery, making spoken word unnecessary. This stands as a naked testament to the art of Antonioni’s direction and to Niccolo’s character. In the end, Identification of a Women plays as many things, but chief among them is an investigation of the craft upon which it is all built.
There is not a lot to offer on this release. Outside of a new high-definition/updated soundtrack, updated subtitles, and a trailer, there is not much more. The booklet offers critic John Powers’ take on the film, and there is an interesting interview with Antonioni handled by critic Gideon Bachman. This is my favorite booklet that I have seen from the Collection, but not quite enough to drive this into the more impressive side of the spectrum in terms of Criterion supplements.
Despite the lackluster supplements, this Criterion release exists to present viewers with one of Antonioni’s best works, which serves as an explanatory take on his own work. The interview in the booklet loudly states his opinion. But his ability to encompass human sexuality, love, and revenge drives home his undeniable ability. And through the dialogue, presented visually and verbally, this film sees a vision fully realized.
Criterion Grade: C
Film Grade: A