Juliet of the Spirits is a movie that I wanted to see with Mrs. Spenser. I think it helped her understand how I feel about its star, Giulietta Masina.
Masina plays Giulietta, the middle-aged wife of some hotshot fashion world PR guy, Mario Pisu, looking like a shopworn Marcello Mastroianni. She lives in a tiny jewelbox villa in the country by the beach, with a pair of maids, her visiting nieces and the friends and family that come to visit.
Her husband is rarely home, and when he is, he brings his crazy scenester friends. They are all glamorous grotesques, and sweet, frumpy Giulietta doesn't really fit in. Even her mother and sister are great beauties and social lions. But she shares an interest in spirits with this gay crowd, and joins them to visit mediums and seances.
Although Fellini makes the world of glamour deliriously fascinating, like in La Dolce Vita, it clearly disgusts him. Whereas Giuletta, quiet, grounded, loving is greatly attractive, even if everything in the movie conspires against her. Her friends ignore her or give her bad advice and the mystical truths that the spirits speak are all hateful and stupid.
Some of us know Masina from Il Strada and Nights of Cabiria - but I haven't seen these movies. I did she her as the prostitute Cabiria in The White Sheik. But that's not why I fell in love with her. Fellini, who was Masina's husband at the time, lets all of his love for her show. He might not do her any favors by making her middle-aged and dowdy, but he lets her soul shine through. And Masina seems to have the soul for the job.
The ending is ambiguous. I was contented by it, Mrs. Spenser was not. But I was glad she was willing to watch it with me.