Gelsomina, slow-witted and sweet, is sold by her family to the strongman Zampanò and learns to be a circus performer. In Federico Fellini’s LA STRADA, love and hate are closely intertwined, and play out in a series of poetic vignettes. To be honest, I had a difficult time getting past the abusive relationship at the heart of the film. There is a message of loyalty at any cost, even if it’s a tragic message. Still, I would not have been so invested in the characters if not for some incredible performances, especially from Fellini’s wife, Giulietta Masina, who plays Gelsomina. Her facial expressions, comic in their exaggeration and yet completely sympathetic, steal every scene she’s in. I spent the entire film wanting to know her character better, and wanting her to succeed.