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Darren Lynn Bousman
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Anna Manni is a policewoman trying to capture a vicious serial rapist and killer. The problem is that she suffers from "Stendhal's syndrome", a psychosomatic disease that gives her dizziness and hallucinations when she is exposed to the sight of paintings and artistic masterpieces. When the maniac lures her into a trap inside Florence's famous Uffizi museum, her troubles are just beginning... Written by
Giancarlo Cairella <email@example.com>
Policewoman Asia Argento, victim of rape, contends with its deep aftermath and the search for the rapist
"The Stendhal Syndrome", while a mystery, is not what it seems, that is, it is not at heart to be taken as a mystery. It is really about the severe psychological effects upon a woman who is a victim of rape. This woman is portrayed by Asia Argento, who has the lead role and appears in almost every scene. She had a large task and she held up her end of it very well indeed. Her father, Dario, directed her. He paced the film on a very steady basis. He didn't cut away from the rape scenes or violent scenes, nor did he sensationalize them. That too contributed to the real theme. The script also works in several other rape victims, so that we see the effects on those women too.
As for the mystery, we are given ample indications of what is happening, but it is deeper than we suppose or might deduce because we have two factors to contend with, which are the rape and the Stendhal Syndrome itself. This is a real phenomenon sometimes experienced by people immersed in art, known to occur at the Uffizi in Florence where the film begins. The surfeit of art or natural beauty can have the effect of making a person dizzy, rapid heartbeat, fainting and even hallucination. This film actually was filmed in the museum and brought back memories to me. It shows the famous Botticelli, for example. It is the only film granted that permission.
At times the Morricone score reminded me of Bernard Herrman and "Vertigo", although the story is very different. This fits some of what occurs in the movie, at the very least in that Argento cuts her hair and dons a blonde wig, while going through character changes.
I'd still classify this as a giallo, despite its being made in 1996. It is also a psychological noir story with quite measured pacing.
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