Cinema: Abnormal to a Fault

The Conformist is a threnody to an era and a political regime, Mussolini's Italy. Based on a novel by Alberto Moravia, the film reproduces the Italy and France of the 1930s with almost operatic splendor; no recent film has been so visually lush or stylistically exhilarating. It is a pity that the scenario cannot quite meet the demands of the mise en scene.

Writer-Director Bernardo Bertolucci, 30, the prodigy of Italian cinema who made an impressive American debut seven years ago with his Before the Revolution, has added a lot of panache to Moravia's...

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