The first film Visconti directed after his stroke, Conversation Piece sees the director working with a new level of focus after larger productions became unfeasible for him. Reteaming with the star of The Leopard, Burt Lancaster, Visconti creates an intimate rendering of an aging professor whose solitude is interrupted when a rich family forcibly moves into the upper floor of his Rome palazzo. A “conversation piece” is a genre of painting that refers to an informal group portrait, and the film crosses generational, sexual, and, in a Proustian fashion, temporal boundaries in painting the relationships among every combination within the small cast. This would be Visconti’s last collaboration with long-time writing partner Suso Cecchi d’Amico.
- Film and Visual Studies