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97 minutes
Long dismissed as a footnote to Luchino Visconti's career, this 1957 film, from the Dostoyevsky story, now seems to be a crucial turning point, the link between Visconti's early neorealist manner and the obsessive stylization of his late films. Shot on forthrightly false sets entirely within a studio, the film brings a lonely stranger (Marcello Mastroianni, in one of his first important parts) together with a surrealistically detached woman (Maria Schell) for a brief, enigmatic affair. Robert Bresson treated the same material in his Four Nights of a Dreamer; curiously, it became one of Bresson's most socially oriented films, while this is one of Visconti's least.

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