The film tells the story of a retired American professor, played by Lancaster, who lives a solitary life in a luxurious palazzo in Rome, where he keeps himself peacefully occupied with his art collection and books. All is well and quiet in his life until he encounters Bianca Brumonti, the grand wife of a right-wing industrialist. She forces her way into his life and wants to rent the upper apartment in his home. She pushily decides that she will force him into renting the apartment to her even though he is not interested in doing so. The professor also has to deal with the intrusion from her young lover, her daughter and the daughter's boyfriend. They are a rowdy, loud bunch who disrupt the professor's much loved solitude. However, the professor becomes intrigued by the group and gets glimpses into a more animated life that is very foreign to him.
The film takes place predominantly within the walls of the palazzo and this gives a very intimate feeling to the story. A world is created. Even though the palazzo is large and grand, the interactions between the characters brings a welcome feeling of intimacy to the story. The palazzo is a haven against the outside world even though bits of the 'real world' seep in from time to time.
I really enjoyed Conversation Piece. The performances were excellent and the film is a superb example of Italian cinema. There is an intriguing building of tension throughout the film, coupled with the varied experiences of human emotion. The stark contrast between the professor's traditional life and the harsher realities of the lives of the younger people is interesting to examine. I was really drawn into the story. This is a film which I will revisit again and again.
Conversation Piece is available to order from Amazon here.
*Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this film for review. All opinions are mine.