The story follows a beautiful girl named Adriana who moves to Rome in order to become a celebrity. As she makes her climb up the ladder, we watch as she is battered about by the men in her life, who are forever fleeting and who are just out for a good time.
A damning portrait of society's morals and double standards this film is a real poke in the eye. Let's face it we haven't changed all that much and if you really watch TV or read fashion/celebrity magazines you'll realize that we are just as vapid as ever. Watching Adriana bounce through her life with ever changing hair styles and dresses in order to follow the latest fashion you realize just how little things have changed. Frankly it may very well that we've grown more vapid as a society.
The real star of the film is the music. A broad selection of popular songs from the time the film was made, their frequent up beat nature runs counter to what we are seeing on the screen. This is especially true in the films final moments where the music gives one a kind of whiplash as it goes against the tragedy of it all.
I know some of you are going to wait for the film to be released on DVD and Bluray by Criterion but don't do it. This is a film you need to see in a theater on a big screen with big sound. Yes its essentially a small scale drama, but like so many Italian films from the same time they were designed to be seen big. I can't tell you how many films I've seen in film class or at a repertory theater, classics of Italian cinema in particular that look fine on a big screen TV but don't play as well as they did when I see them on the big screen. Frankly I'm convinced that the reason that the films of Fellini have fallen out of favor is not because they are bad but rather they don't have the emotional kick in the ass they do on a big screen (Watch 8 1/2 on a big screen and then try to watch it small- it doesn't work). I KNEW HER WELL is going to be like that. trust me I know, Long ago I saw some of I KNEW HER WELL in a film class and it had power. The problem with the film class was that we only saw part of films because of he way the school rented them (we only saw as much as we could see in one class period). It wasn't until recently when I was given a a chance to see the film streaming that I saw the end. Seeing the film complete again on a small screen I realized not only how great the film is but also I realized that this would have been so much better big-this is film about trying to be larger than life and it really need to be seen big.
I KNEW HER WELL opens Friday at film Forum and its a must see.