Oscar-winning filmmaker Alexander Payne (“Sideways,” “The Descendants”) will receive a presentation credit on Antonio Pietrangeli’s newly restored 1965 standout “I Knew Her Well” (“lo la conoscevo bene“), opening February 5 at New York’s Film Forum thanks to Janus Films and the Criterion Collection. (Their recent re-release of another restored masterwork from that year, Orson Welles’ “Chimes at Midnight,” proved to be something of a smash.) The distributors have planned a national release of “I Knew Her Well” to follow; check out the exclusive (and awfully seductive) new poster below.
Pietrangeli’s final completed film—he died in an accident on the set of “Come, quando, perché” in 1968, at the age of 49—”I Knew Her Well” follows Adriana (Stefania Sandrelli, “Divorce Italian Style”) through the Rome of “La Dolce Vita,” deftly mixing the tragic and the comic. Payne says the film deserves consideration alongside Fellini’s 1960 classic and the works of Michelangelo Antonioni as a pinnacle of the Italian cinema’s second postwar decade, calling it “nothing short of pay dirt.”
Indeed, one hopes the attention from Janus and Criterion, following close on the heels of a MoMA retrospective, will spark a reappraisal of Pietrangeli’s brilliant career, in which he also collaborated with the likes of Luchino Visconti and Roberto Rossellini. He’s a bridge between Neorealism and what came after whose work is well worth searching out. (“I Knew Her Well” is also available on Blu-ray and DVD from Criterion.)