Conversation Piece (Gruppo di famiglia in un interno)
July 29, 2013
For his penultimate film, Luchino Visconti again cast Lancaster as a pensive man watching the world change before his eyes. Instead of an aristocrat, as in The Leopard, Lancaster plays an aging professor of art history whose peaceful, sequestered life is uprooted when a vulgar marchesa suddenly moves into the upper floors of his house in Rome. The film is in some ways an updating of Death in Venice by way of May 1968, as the professor finds himself drawn to the marchesa’s gigolo lover, who turns out to have a past in student activism. Out of this highbrow melodrama, Visconti fashions an elegiac meditation on politics, culture and sexuality, graced by one of Lancaster’s most poignant performances.