American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
The surprise is that there are so few movies about musicians dying of incurable diseases in Venice. The subject recommends itself, and
Venice, as we all know, is the world's dandiest city for dying in if you have a little advance warning. It is also the world's most beautiful city, in my opinion, and so a movie shot on location there can hardly fail to caress the eye.
"The Anonymous Venetian" does that nicely enough, and I stayed until the end because I was enjoying the scenery. But the story is one of those indigestible tragedies in which the people on the screen seem to be crying more than we feel they have a reason to. The musician (Tony Musante) is dying, and the woman who was once his wife (Florinda Bolkan) comes to spend a day with him.
After she learns of his disease, she decides to delay her departure and leave town on the 9:30 p.m. express instead of the 6:15 local. That is hardly a universe-shattering emotional decision, but it will have to do. The movie is dubbed so badly into English that only the broadest melodramatic strokes survive the dialog. At one point, the man's entire response to the woman's outpouring of regret is, "Edifying!"
Their enigmatic conversations take place all over Venice, however, and there are a lot of locations you won't recognize unless you really know the city well. Most Venetian scenes are shot in the Piazza San Marco, with maybe a walk across the Rialto thrown in. "The Anonymous Venetian" has its characters prowl through the passageways of the city's more isolated residential quarters, and there are a lot of cats and stones dripping with moss and arches leading into gloom and then out again to cross bridges.