When most people get writer’s block, they have to… uh… well I have writer’s block for this review, so what do I do? Oh yeah, just write about whatever thought I have and then proceed into plot description. It usually turns out to be one of my more mediocre reviews. Well, that’s not the case for writer/director Federico Fellini, who uses his writer’s block into a film… about writer’s block (or in some instances, director’s block). The film depicts a director who seems to be creatively exhausted as he struggles to cobble together his latest film.
You’d think a film in which the primary subject is writer’s block might turn out to be boring; it’s not. ‘8 ½’ is one of the best, most imaginative films I’ve ever seen. In fact, I can’t think of another film which so accurately captures the essence of existence. There is no singular struggle for the film’s protagonist. He’s obviously struggling to direct his latest film, but he’s also struggling to keep his marriage together, he’s struggling to appease the many people involved in his life, he’s even struggling to keep his mistress happy. But above all else, he’s struggling to keep himself happy, and he doesn’t know how to do it.
But what makes the film truly great is how it so deftly gets inside the head of the protagonist. We see all his strengths, all his weaknesses, his deep yearnings and his biggest fears. We see several dream (or imaginated) sequences, and even a couple sequences depicting his childhood. To be perfectly honest, I can’t come up with a film that is as insightful into the human experience as this one does. “Saraghina! La rumba!”+4