Visconti is best known as one of the cornerstones of the Italian Neo-Realist cinema, so I was quite surprised to find a film like Death in Venice. This one was all atmosphere and repressed emotion, a slow-moving drama about the quest for beauty that never really dulls, even at 130 minutes long.
A sick and aging composer goes to Venice to recover from his health issues. There he becomes fixated with a young boy on vacation. The boy represents pure beauty for the composer, something he has chased for his entire life. Though the plague is threatening to swoop Venice, he can't leave the place behind.
The music is soothing, the cinematography pretty delicate and moody, the performances subdued. It's really everything that Italian cinema is not, so this was a happy surprise. It's not quite as pretty as some make it out to be, but it's certainly my favorite Visconti so far. I guess I need to try his other end-of-career films next.