Guido Contini is considered the greatest Italian filmmaker alive, but as he gets older, he struggles with writer's block. At a press conference held for his new movie, he manages to charm the media without ever being able to give concrete answers about the upcoming film itself. As he leaves, he laments that he isn't the same artist that he once was, that his younger days were stronger, more energetic, and more focused. He's brought his mistress, Carla, to Rome to stay near the set where he'll be shooting, but she is angry at him when she finds she has her own room and isn't sharing his fancy suite. He thinks constantly of his younger days, looking for inspiration, remembering a prostitute who his friends raised money with him to teach them everything there is to know about sex. While contemplating all of the women in his life, he is surprised when his wife, Luisa, arrives on set for her birthday-- she used to be his leading lady and muse, but ever since they were married, she's retired from acting. However, this makes her acutely aware of the temptations that Guido surrounds himself with, and when she sees Carla lurking around at dinner, she becomes aware that Guido is cheating on her. She storms out, and Guido tries to take solace by going to the bedroom with Stephanie, a young American journalist who has been flirting with him... but when Carla tries to kill herself, Luisa leaves the city, and his leading lady, Claudia, leaves the production when she sees she'll never be his special someone, it leaves Guido drowning in a sea of women problems, as he tries to make a film with no script and no inspiration.
Best part of story, including ending:
It's a better stage musical than it is a film, but it has its highlights, with a couple of especially strong musical numbers and performances.
Best scene in story:
The prostitute's musical number, in which she teaches young Guido about sex, is bawdy and sensual, probably the best of any of the numbers in the film.
Opinion about the main character:
Guido is in over his head, undoubtedly, but one can sympathize with his plight of being an artist with so much pressure that he is unable to cope.