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I have been aware of this film for many, many years now. Yet I always used to forget it existed when I thought of Dario Argento's filmography. I guess he is such am auteur that it seemed really bizarre that he would direct a historical comedy. Having said that, he did seem to have a penchant for including comedy into most of his his gialli and horror films. But with the odd exceptions such as the comic interplay between David Hemmings and Daria Nicolodi in Deep Red, I have to say that his attempts at humour always seemed really clunky. So for this reason, I never really made any attempt to seek The Five Days of Milan out. As it turned out, a fellow IMDb user kindly sorted me out a copy of the film and I was finally able to check it out for myself.
During the final days of the Italian revolution a thief escapes from jail in the chaos. He hooks up with a baker and they travel the streets of Milan together witnessing the historic events. Unfortunately, the idealism of the revolution quickly turns to hypocrisy, rape and murder.
As it turned out this was Argento's only film to move away from the giallo/horror genres. It wasn't successful seemingly but it isn't necessarily difficult to understand why. It has a wildly varying tone that veers from slapstick to brutal rape. This must've been quite disconcerting for many at the time. The comedy isn't particularly funny to be perfectly honest; although this didn't really surprise me too much given my experience with Argento's other films. But the more sober and serious material is quite effectively handled at times. And the film does seem to have pretty decent production values and does look pretty good as well. Argento's stylistic approach is massively reduced to fit the period film aesthetics, which is a shame in some ways but probably sensible overall. It's a movie that has very Italian specific subject matter and was no doubt only ever conceived of serving the domestic market, so from a non-Italian's point-of-view it doesn't fully make a connection at times. Nevertheless, I have to say that it was a movie that I found more rewarding and interesting than I ever thought I would.
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