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I tracked this rarely seen Italian horror on Polish TV and I'm really glad that I taped it.This is a truly bizarre study of madness,which reminds me Polanski's "Repulsion"(1965).The main character-a painter brilliantly played by Franco Nero is trying to run away from his strange visions.He visits an old mansion to find peace,quiet and inspiration,but it seems that this place is haunted by the ghost of a young girl.He slowly loses his sanity...This unjustly forgotten and rather disturbing horror film is a cinematic pleasure to watch for fans of bizarre Italian cinema.The characters are really weird,the musical score by Ennio Morricone is unforgettable and there are some genuine moments of insanity and creepiness.Elio Petri created an unique film,which should be seen by everybody(not only by horror fans!).Highly recommended.
A talented, imaginative painter(Franco Nero)is having trouble finishing
any of his paintings (painter's block?). His matron and lover (Vanessa
Redgrave) arranges for him to stay at a quiet villa out in the country.
Instead of getting any work done there, however, he becomes obsessed
with the story of a beautiful and promiscuous 17-year-old girl who was
mysteriously killed at the villa during WWII. The older locals
(especially the men)are equally obsessed with the girl,and they all end
up holding a bizarre séance. But it is only the painter who starts
seeing her ghost and eventually solves the mystery. Or does he?
This movie is kind of a combination of a ghost story like "The Sixth Sense" and an artist-as-unreliable-narrator movie like the recent French film "Swimming Pool". It's not really clear whether the ghost exists or whether Nero's character is going crazy (although the latter seems more likely). It is difficult to really compare this movie to a Hollywood-style movie, however. Whereas a Hollywood-style movie would have ratcheted up the suspense and eventually resolved the mystery. This movie starts and ends with pure over-the-top 60's pop psychedelia and only the middle seems to be a really coherent narrative. And this is really more like the more famous 60's Italian film "Blow Up" in that the mystery eventually becomes almost completely irrelevant.
The "Blow Up" comparison is tempting in that both films star Vanessa Redgrave in one of her more sex kitten-ish roles as opposed to one of her later, more serious roles (she did both, kind of like a British Jane Fonda). However,this film has a much more frenetic pacing than "Blow Up" and is really of a piece with talented director Elio Petri's other films like "The Tenth Victim" and "Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion". Besides, this is much more Franco Nero's show than Redgrave's. This is an unusual role for Nero. He looks physically different--thinner and with much less muscle tone (especially compared to his earlier appearances in "Django" and "Texas Addio"). His character is very manic and seems half-crazed from the outset, and he has a lot of blackly humorous scenes like when he visits the dead girl's lonely, invalid old mother and just kind of helps himself to all her photographs. The supporting cast is good too including the very pretty Gabrielle Grimaldi as the "ghost" and Rita Calderoni (who later worked a lot with equally crazed if less talented Italian directors Renato Poselli and Paolo Solvay) as the maid at the villa, who always seems to be in bed with her "brother" and at one point gets painted-- literally--by her crazed employer. You may or not like this, but you certainly can't say it isn't interesting.
A hypnotic Italian thriller about a very imaginative young painter (Nero). He's popular, energetic, so are his paintings. His matron and lover (Redgrave) is going to do everything to make him do his thing. She's willing to create an environment in which he'd be able to churn out more work that's hot and expensive. He decides he needs a quiet place in the country to live and paint in. But as they find such a place, he gets distracted big time... This film is brilliantly crafted. Full of striking and dynamic visuals created by clever camera-work. Always logical, insane, but never "cheesy", "Quiet Place..." at times reminds of Fulci's "Lucertola con la Pelle di Donna" and Verhoeven's "De Vierde Man". Franco Nero's a dead ringer to Kurt Cobain in this one. He's so great in this role that it's almost as if he isn't acting. Highly recommended to fans of Bunuel, Verhoeven, Argento, etc.
A Quiet Place in the Country is a rarely seen film, and that's probably
owing to the fact that sourcing an English language copy is rather
difficult. I was lucky enough to find one, and although I'm not going
to rave about this film as some others have; it's certainly very
interesting and was worth the trouble of tracking it down. The film is
likely to divide opinion because it doesn't really follow any logical
structure, and mostly relies on style and atmosphere to get its points
across. Films like this have to work extra hard to get me to like them
as I'm a fan of films that tell a story...and I'd say it just about
manages it. The plot focuses on Leonardo Ferri; a tortured artist. He
is haunted by strange visions and suffers from nightmares. Because of
this, he feels he needs to get away to the countryside. He ends up
staying in a country villa; but his tranquillity is soon interrupted
when it emerges that the villa is haunted by the ghost of a girl.
Leonardo then becomes obsessed by the idea of the haunting, and edges
ever closer to losing his mind.
My main reason for wanting to see this film is the fact that it stars the great Franco Nero. It has to be said that this isn't really an actor's film as the focus is more on the visuals; but in spite of that, Nero still manages to impress with a performance that hits all the right notes. Nero leads the film and plays the only character of any sustained significance; but he does receive some decent support from Vanessa Redgrave. The plot is very fragmented in the way that it's structured and often trails off in directions you wouldn't expect. At times it's easier just to forget about what is going on and just watch the film itself without worrying about the plot. Director Elio Petri creates a surreal atmosphere, which compliments the plot nicely and helps to increase the potency of many of the visuals featured. The plot line about the haunting does not begin until half way through the film; although it is the film's only real attempt to tell a story. Even so, the film is a success rated purely on the quality of what we're seeing on screen...although viewers that appreciate a good story may be disappointed.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Leonardo Ferri can't paint. He's the toast of the town thanks to his
abstract paintings, which fetch incredible prices. He dates the
beautiful Flavia, his manager. A collector loans him a luxurious villa
in the countryside to work. Life should be easy for Leonardo, but he's
going through a creative crisis and having violent nightmares. He gets
worse when, after driving aimlessly through the countryside, he
discovers an abandoned villa for sale and becomes obsessed with living
in it. If he already showed signs of mental instability from the start,
the legend of a young countess who died mysteriously there during World
War II, finally erases the last vestiges of sanity.
Cinema has long loved to explore the relationships between art, creativity and madness. A Quiet Place in the Country was released before Black Swan, The Shining, Robert Altman's Images, and on the same year as Ingmar Bergman's The Hour of the Wolf, with which it shares a few similarities: distraught painter living in isolation is haunted by things which may or may not be figments of his imagination. Although Bergman's remarkable incursion into horror has achieved a degree of fame, Elio Petri's movie remains undeservedly obscure; the fact that it so perfectly embodies the formula many of the above-mentioned movies still cling to, should make it essential watching for fans of movies about artists going murderously crazy.
The first thing one notices is Ennio Morricone's dissonant, deliberately ugly score for the movie. It's loud, clangourous, distorted, and interspersed with metallic noises. It's music meant to disturb and irritate. It gnaws at ones' nerves, predating the score John Williams composed for Images in collaboration with Stomu Yamashta, whose random weird sound effects disrupt the traditional harmony of Williams' compositions. In fact the whole movie is cacophonous from start to finish. The first act in Milan is thundering with urban noises: the indistinct humming of people, the ringing of telephones, the screeching of tires. Ironically, when the action moves to the countryside, it remains equally noise: the omnipresent chirping of birds and droning of critters simply replaces man-made sounds. In spite of the title, there's nothing quiet in the movie, whose frenzied sound wonderfully reflects Leonardo's deranged mind.
The dilemma about Leonardo's mental state is that we can never tell whether he's imagining things or whether a ghost is really manipulating him. He's in almost every frame of the movie, meaning the information we get is mediated by his perception. But the way he sees reality is fragmentary, blending the past and present, hallucinations and memories; he imagines fascist soldiers storming the gardens of the villa as he gazes out of a window. Ambiguity builds up until not even the viewer is capable of distinguishing fantasy and reality. It's not unlike the way Jack Nicholson's character in The Shining slowly becomes part of the hotel's history.
Elio Petri, famous for the Oscar-winning political parable Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion, had a dynamic career. He arguably directed the first movie to talk about the Mafia, We Still Kill The Old Way; he directed Marcello Mastroianni in science fiction and crime movies; he tackled labour rights in The Working Class Goes to Heaven, and his political satire Todo Modo predicted the assassination of Italian prime-minister Aldo Moro. For this horror movie he got together with an excellent cast and crew: the actor Franco Nero, already a star thanks to the Django movies, Vanessa Redgrave, the legendary screenwriter Tonino Guerra (co-author of many movies with Antonioni, Fellini and Tarkovsky), and the underrated cinematographer Luigi Kuveiller, who worked with Dario Argento in Deep Red. Knowing the names associated with this movie helps explain why it's such a fascinating work of cinema: the strong colours are the mark of Kuveiller, who could saturate the frame like few cinematographers. And the strangeness of the story owes a lot to Guerra's favourite themes of memory and perception (could we expect less from the screenwriter of Blowup?). That this movie is unique isn't remarkable; that some of the finest filmmakers of their time got together to make it is our luck.
Nero also shines in his difficult role and portrays Leonardo's insanity always on the edge of exploding into violence. His feverish, paranoid look greatly enhances the mood and grounds the disparate plot around him. For as much as this movie owes to the absurd and the irrational, it's never a deeply alienating experience thanks to Nero's charisma.
A Quiet Place in the Country is a great '60s movie. It drips with sensuality and coolness. Like Blowup, it defines a time and a place. Pop art is much on display throughout the movie, and American pop artist Jim Dine contributed created the paintings used in the finale. Probably shocking for its time because of the sex and violence, it's aged into a very respectable piece of weird cinema that fans of cult movies will want to add to their repertoire.
"A Quiet Place in the Country (1969) is about an Italian painter who rents a villa that is haunted by the spirit of a young woman killed during WWII. Essentially, that is about it, as far as a plot for this film. Franco Nero plays the stereotypical image of a temperamental artist; arrogant and dismissive of others, his character is not exactly what one would call warm. The first part of the film is somewhat dull. Nero is shacked up with his lover (Vanessa Redgrave) who encourages his painting, although her motives seem to be more financial, his for the artistry. For whatever reason, he becomes obsessed with a run-down Italian villa and moves there. Nero is plagued by dreams about a young girl who lived in the village and was promiscuous with some of the males who still reside there. The film becomes more interesting as Nero tries to unravel the mystery of how the young woman died, who she was involved with -- and it begins to drive him into total madness. I won't give away the very bizarre ending, and I am not sure I could explain it myself! One positive here is the creepy atmosphere the director manages to set -- one can almost feel the spirit of the young woman throughout the villa. There are some very fascinating visuals throughout. All of that said, the plot is at times quite disjointed, full of holes and unanswered questions. Nero is fascinating to watch, and I confess I knew little of him as an actor. Vanessa Redgrave, always one of my favorites, is given little to do here. Her devotion to Nero's character seems to border on the pathological at times, and we get slight glimpses into their bizarre and -- I think -- unhealthy relationship. This is definitely not a film for everyone, but I found it interesting, despite its flaws.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Elio Petri's oddity stars Franco Nero as a moody artist, who, on the advice of girlfriend Vanessa Redgrave, moves out to the Italian countryside and takes up residence in a decaying castle. The tranquility is short-lived as Nero goes from moody to insane. The castle may or may not be haunted by a young girl who was killed there during WWII. Some of the locals seem to know more than they're willing to let on. Nero is excellent and he & Vanessa Redgrave have A LOT of chemistry. Petri's strange directorial touches don't always work and there's probably one too many hidden rooms for Nero to discover, but this is a fine and very creepy psychological thriller. Ennio Morricone's one of a kind music score is among his best. Featuring Georges Géret as a guilt-ridden ex-lover of the mystery girl and a very outré cameo by Madeleine Damien.
The canny on-screen pairing of Vanessa Redgrave & Franco 'Django' Nero generates some considerable frisson in this taut, atmospheric Italian chiller. This enigmatic, surreal giallo is an unwarranted sleeper since 'a quiet pace in the country' (1969) is a skillfully wrought, eerie treatise on madness; with robust performances from the two attractive leads, assured direction by, Elio Petri and a marvellously evocative and uneasy score from, Ennio Morricone, ensures that this Giallo-Gothic is time well spent. 'A Quiet Place in The Country' sits happily alongside 'Repulsion' & 'The house with laughing windows' in terms of mood, style and uneasy content. (special mention has to be made of the wonderfully Godardian, pop-art title sequence, given considerable pep via Morricone's avaunt-beatnik grooves)
A completely novel role for Franco Nero, no, he is not a cowboy, neither a cop, he's simply an abstract painter, obsessed with sex, strange dreams and kneaded-surreal-erotic visions. The film starts with a succession of favorite paintings of mine too(Francisco Goya - The Nude Maja, etc., many nudes...) Then, Nero(Leonardo Ferri) is skimming along with Vanessa Redgrave(Flavia) some soft porn magazines. Then, Wanda, the beautiful ghost begin to manifest: being jealous on Flavia, she wants her dead. Absolutely normal, it can happen to anyone no, when a ghost falls for you, she does anything to have you, right? We learn later that in fact Wanda had not been machine-gunned from that plane, but was shot by Attilio(Georges Geret) (usually in other films, a very good actor). Finally, we must conclude that Nero-Leonardo Ferri is really crazy. OK, Elio Petri is for me one of the most talented filmmakers ever, he gave us absolute masterpieces like "Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion"(1970)(one of the best films ever made), "We Still Kill the Old Way"(1967), "Lulu the Tool"(1971), etc. but with this "A Quiet Place in the Country" he simply failed, is exactly like those hundreds or thousands of giallo(Italian thrillers) made in the 60s and '70s, those with value close to zero.
Attempting to find some inspiration, an artist and his lover takes up
residence in a haunted mansion in the middle of the country and becomes
obsessed with uncovering the mystery surrounding the legacy of the
woman supposedly haunting the area.
Frankly, this was one of the weirdest Italian horror films simply for that very virtue being present. The fact is that this one here is weird rather than scary, which is present in the opening with his hallucinatory visions and freaky experiences including seeing his double entice him towards a house, her double dressed as a nurse pushing him in a wheelchair or their apartment with its trappings of the 'Mod' lifestyle and their relationship in general is just flat-out weird which just halts the film to the ground. That makes it incredibly hard to stay interest in what's going on, and it remains that way for most of the movie as it switches gears extremely late into the running time into a more traditional horror mystery only that has to be built-up and it takes even longer to get going. This is helped out by the insistence of having him go crazy as the main source for the scares which is just wrong as the events used to get him that way, from the crashing furniture and spilled paint-cans to an incredibly suspenseful séance and his interactions with the town's residents leading to some rather unusual moments here. Beyond the concept of trying to find out exactly why he's being haunted there's not a whole lot of actual horror on display here. While the finale does have a lot of demented horror action in the house and the resolution of the story, that's still not enough to make up for this one.
Rated R: Violence, Language, Nudity and sexual content.
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