Enrico, a Venetian musician and composer, is seen, as the story begins, awaiting for Valeria, his estranged wife at the railway station. He buys red roses to greet her with, but thinks twice about them and throws them away before her train arrives. When they meet, Valeria asks him why has he summoned her to Venice, a city where they met, were happy, got married, had a son, and was the scene of their acrimonious split. He advises her that in due time he will tell her.
Thus begins a sort of a ballet where Enrico and Valeria are the partners of an extended 'pas de deux' throughout Venice, that magical city as a backdrop. In a way, it is a travelogue where most of the places they once new are revisited as we get to know the real reason behind Enrico's invitation: he is dying of a mysterious disease. Valeria wants to stay and help, but he reminds her she is now living in Ferrara with their son, Giorgio, and the wealthy industrialist that is now her real partner. Divorce did not exist in Italy at the time when the story takes place. As a parting souvenir, Enrico brings Valeria to the church of San Vitale where he is recording the work that lends its name for the title of the film.
"Anonimo veneziano" was considered one of the most romantic movies of that era. Time has not been kind to the film though. Enrico Maria Salerno, the director who co-wrote the screenplay, wanted to draw a parallel, perhaps, juxtaposing the moribund city with a real dying man. European directors favor that type of moody cinema making, in which they placed lovers doing long walks with artistic backgrounds. Mr. Salerno's style follows that pattern as he makes Enrico and Valeria walk all over town once again. The real star of the film is Venice. Much of the exchange between Enrico and Valeria go from rage to tenderness in seconds. They even act in a civilized manner, even making love for old time sake!
Tony Musante, a reliable American actor, was at his prime when the film was made. He worked a lot in the Italian cinema and never feels out of place. His Enrico is a complex man trying to deal with a horrible situation. Florinda Bolkan, who is Brazilian, made a name for herself in Italy. Her Valeria shows that in spite of her tough exterior, she still has feelings for her former husband.
Marcello Gatti, the cinematographer, captures the Venice most tourists don't get to see. His camera stays in those out of the way places that show a city without the crowds that make walking such a pleasure. Stelvio Cipriani's music is melodious; it serves the narrative well as it almost feels like a modern video in which the images illustrate the song. This is a film with a lot of style, but not much substance.