Michelangelo Antonioni's L'avventura ("The Adventure", or perhaps more appropriately "The Fling") is about as arty as European art house cinema gets. The 2+ hour feature, which won a special award at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival for its unique contribution to the cinematic landscape, is an impressionistic critique of the Italian upper class, featuring a stunningly gorgeous cast of Italian movie stars.
The film starts out following a group of couples on their yacht cruise vacation to the remotest volcanic islands of the Mediterranean. Something is noticeably wrong though with Anna, the daughter of a powerful aristocrat, who assaults her fiancé with stingingly negative statements about love and fakes being chased by a shark just for the fun of it. About 40 minutes in, Anna goes missing, evaporating seemingly into thin air, leaving the group as a whole a bit worried and her friend Claudia in particular an emotional wreck.
Claudia spearheads the effort to track Anna down; not only are her efforts fruitless, but Claudia all but abandons the search after falling in love with Anna's fiancé. L'avventura is opaque and unresolved at the same time that it is highly sensual and wonderfully atmospheric. The soundtrack switches back and forth between the unnervingly rhythmic sounds of water and wind splashing and swooshing and a memorable soundtrack by Giovanni Fusco, who was supposedly told by Antonioni to "compose jazz as though it were written in the Hellenic era" (hear for yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxBHj05O7-o).
So the verdict? It's definitely a very different film from what you would normally watch, and without having seen any other works by Antonioni I can't make a judgment at this time on how L'avventura stacks up to the director's other films. Still, it's easy to see how L'avventura was groundbreaking for its time, and I would highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in the history of world cinema. (Everyone else? well if you ever have 2.5 hours to kill and a desire to watch frivolous, bourgeois Italian antics...)