Picks and Pans Review: City of Women

updated 04/06/1981 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 04/06/1981 AT 01:00 AM EST

What if women took over the world? That's the premise of this hypnotically alluring Federico Fellini film. Marcello Mastroianni is traveling on a train. He spots a beautiful woman, tries to seduce her, then follows her to a land where women rule. Is this a dream or Fellini fantasy? Whichever—we learn at the end—the movie reconfirms Fellini's reputation as one of the most daring directors in cinematic history. This film, which he also wrote, resembles his earlier 8½, and Mastroianni again gives a superb performance. Stumbling through a feminist convention, hounded by cruising teenage girls and finally taking refuge in the fortress of the last macho man, he is amused, mystified and, finally, stripped of his protective male armor. Not that this movie is antifeminist—Fellini's wit skewers men as well as women. His story is, as usual, told in strikingly beautiful scenes and reinforces the idea that, at its best, pure cinema can be a kind of magic. (Not rated)

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