Identification of a Woman

Identification of a Woman (Italian: Identificazione di una donna) is a 1982 Italian drama film written, directed, and edited by Michelangelo Antonioni and starring Tomás Milián, Daniela Silverio, and Christine Boisson. The film is about an Italian filmmaker searching for a woman to play the leading role in his next film, and also in his life.[1] Filmed on location in Rome and Venice,[2] Identification of a Woman was awarded the 35th Anniversary Prize at the 1982 Cannes Film Festival.[3]

Identification of a Woman
Identification of a Woman.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMichelangelo Antonioni
Produced byGiorgio Nocella
Antonio Macrì
Screenplay byMichelangelo Antonioni
Gérard Brach
Tonino Guerra
Story byMichelangelo Antonioni
StarringTomás Milián
Daniela Silverio
Christine Boisson
Music byJohn Foxx
CinematographyCarlo Di Palma
Edited byMichelangelo Antonioni
Release date
  • October 21, 1982 (1982-10-21) (Italy)
Running time
128 minutes


The existence of Niccolò, a film director living in Rome, is empty. He has no new film to make, no woman in his life, and his only family is his sister, a gynaecologist, and her little son. He approaches one of his sister's patients, a beautiful young aristocrat called Mavi, and the two start a passionate affair.

It proves empty, since Niccolò has no interest in her family and titled friends, a feeling they reciprocate, and introduces her to no friends of his. Worse, Niccolò finds he is under surveillance and is even explicitly warned off Mavi. Who these threats emerge from she does not say and he never finds out. To escape his shadowers in Rome, he takes Mavi out to an old farmhouse he has rented, but the drive there through fog is traumatic and they quarrel violently. In the morning Mavi has vanished. Searching for her back in Rome, the only friend of hers who will talk to him warns Niccolò that Mavi is bisexual and hints at a jealous past lover.

Wanting company and affection, Niccolò meets a young stage actress called Ida, slim and athletic like Mavi, a working-class girl who loves the country and is not brittle or mysterious but utterly open. While she is happy to sleep with him, she realises that he is still longing for Mavi and sets him on the trail to find her present address. Listening on the stairs, Niccolò hears Mavi tell the girl with whom she shares a flat that she must keep on hiding from him.

Accepting at last that Mavi will never come back, he takes Ida for a romantic holiday in Venice. There she gets a phone call from her doctor in Rome, who confirms that she is pregnant. Delicately, she tells Niccolò that she does love him but her loyalty must now be to the father of the baby.

Back alone in Rome, Niccolò starts musing about his next film. He imagines a spaceship built of asteroid material that could approach the sun. He recalls telling his young nephew about space travel, saying, "The day mankind understands what the sun is made of and its power, perhaps we'll understand the entire universe and the reasons behind so many things." His nephew responds, "And then?"


The cast includes the following:[4]


Antonioni was awarded with the "35th Anniversary Prize" at the 1982 Cannes Film Festival.[5]

Upon its release in the United States, Vincent Canby called the film "an excruciatingly empty work" and "beautiful and sad—virtually a parody of the director's great L'Avventura and some of his other earlier films."[6] In an October 2011 essay published to accompany a release of a Criterion Collection edition, critic John Powers pointed out that the film had been made when Antonioni was nearing seventy: "this is one of those autumnal movies—think Rio Bravo or An Autumn Afternoon—in which an aging director allows himself to be more relaxed and genial than in his most finely tuned work. Far from serving up a major statement about the human condition—something Antonioni was never shy about doing—Identification of a Woman comes tinged with modesty and irony. His first feature set in Italy since 1964’s Red Desert, it finds him taking a provisional measure of how the modern world has been shifting around him."[7]


  1. ^ "Identification of a Woman". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2 April 2012.
  2. ^ "Filming locations for Identification of a Woman". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2 April 2012.
  3. ^ "Awards for Identification of a Woman". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2 April 2012.
  4. ^ "Full cast and crew for Identification of a Woman". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2 April 2012.
  5. ^ "Identification of a Woman". Festival de Cannes. Retrieved 6 December 2009.
  6. ^ Canby, Vincent (September 30, 1982). "Antonioni's Mystery Identification of a Woman". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-09-22.
  7. ^ Powers, John (October 24, 2011). "Identification of a Woman: The Women in the Window". Criterion Collection. Retrieved 2014-09-22.

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