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|Index||71 reviews in total|
19 out of 24 people found the following review useful:
Through the looking-glass darkly, 5 June 1999
Author: matthew wilder (email@example.com) from los angeles
What makes up the singular pleasure that is Dario Argento? Maybe it's the
crossroads where High Romanticism and hardcore porn meet. (I'm referring
the feeling of his work--not the images.) Argento seems doomed, like
Peckinpah and like Lynch, to have summed up his world-view in a single
masterpiece, the 1977 SUSPIRIA; the thrillers that came before and the
low-budget shockers that came after may offer delights, but nothing close
that unity of vision.
Seeing THE STENDHAL SYNDROME projected in Los Angeles, I was struck with newfound sympathy for the Star Wars fans protesting way too much in favor of THE PHANTOM MENACE. If you love THE STENDHAL SYNDROME, you love Argento, and that is that--you may see the flaws, but they don't ruin your pleasure. The picture has too many Achilles heels to enumerate here, but what's important is that nobody in world cinema today is wrestling with his soul in the psychosexual mire the way Argento does. He puts his misogynistic demons and his almost sentimental compassion right out there; and only Cronenberg has such a direct pipeline to his own unconscious. Not to mention the fabulous, cascading images--Argento's stock-in-trade is Victorian Liebestod, Edward Gorey gone porno, and THE STENDHAL SYNDROME has sequences that rank with his best.
The sketchy thing about STENDHAL SYNDROME, like the maestro's TRAUMA, is his use of his daughter, Asia Argento, in scenes one cannot imagine a father watching, much less filming. Whatever memoirs come down the pike twenty years later, it must be said: Argento for certain lets it all hang out, and the land-mined terrain he maps is, to my taste, thrilling.
12 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
Pretty solid, 7 March 2005
Author: (dennis70) from Trieste
Regarded as one of Argento's lesser works, I find this one much more
plausible than any of his early films. Let's face it, Argento doesn't
care much about plot or even acting. His films are probably the
frustrating I've ever seen: There are things I love, and things I hate
about them. I grew up watching much of his films mutilated by Italian
Television. I was a kid back then, and strangely enough his films never
scared me when they were supposed to. They were really over the top.
But I loved the colours, the pictures and once in a while I found
myself humming Claudio Simonetti's electronic scores.
Now with this film Argento has Morricone, who is definitely a master and he does a great job here. Anna's character is really intriguing. Some people dismiss Asia's acting style, but I think it goes very well with her father's aesthetics. You wont find the crazy colours here. Everything is more restrained. The opening for example scene is great. But the film looses interest towards the end. Still I think is one of Argento's most solid pieces. The idea is truly interesting and Anna's relationship with the killer is fascinating. The hallucinations scenes of Anna going into the paintings are masterfully done.
After the huge disappointment of Il Cartaio, I hope he truly returns to form, and start doing what he's good at: Going crazy with film. La Sindrome Di Stendhal is a pretty good step.
10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
underrated intelligant thriller, 18 April 2000
Author: cread from devon england
La Syndrome di Stendahl has met cruel critical comments on its initial release but although it is not at all like his earlier work, it is in fact a far more intelligent and mature affair. Anna Manni, the character played by Asia Argento, has more compassion than any other character in an Argento film, quite unlike the carelessly created cartoon-like characters of his other work. It is true, however that the film drags slightly in the middle, although picks up the pace again for a surprising and beautifully directed finale; and although the film is not as bloody as tenebrae, the violence on display is brutal and sexual (leading to it being cut for release in Britain) and genuinely disturbing. Perhaps not as good as Deep Red or Suspiria, but definitely one of this unusual director's better efforts.
5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Argento breaks formula at last, 11 October 2000
Definitely heady stuff from a filmmaker whose prior experience with
psychological subtext has been problematic at best, this film highlights a
fearless performance by Asia Argento. The obvious "Argento touches" (i.e.,
pills rattling down an esophagus, the bullet through a woman's face) stick
out like a sore thumb, as they act not in service to the story but rather to
reference what is expected from Argento; after the catastrophe of Trauma
(Argento imitating a hack filmmaker imitating Argento), this film goes in
directions that the director's previous films had only hinted at, and
doesn't lead to rely on trademarks for a crutch.
The pace of the film is extremely well-handled in the first half, although it seems to lose track in the second half exactly where the narrative should be tightening up. But given Argento's lack of experience with more plot-driven material, this is in some measure to be expected. Cinematography, sets, art direction are all exemplary.
The acting is always a sore point for Argento movies. Here, only a couple of actors are allowed to give performances, but they make them count. Thomas Kretschmann is only on screen a few times, but gives a strong enough impression in that time (and not simply because of the brutal material contained there) that his role seems much larger. However, the film lives or dies with Asia's performance, and she throws herself into it with abandon. She's ultimately more convincing when she's required to be fierce than when she's required to be vulnerable, but goes through a bewildering range of emotions with scarcely a false note. And it's to her credit that it's so unsettling watching the torments her father subjects her to, so to speak, because she commits herself to their realization so thoroughly.
Comparing this to films from Argento's peak period is not really applicable...it comes from an entirely different vein. Which makes it all the more depressing that his next movie would be Il Fantasma dell'Opera, easily his worst.
3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Contemporary Giallo from the Argentos, 11 March 2005
Author: honeybearrecords from United States
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I first saw this film four or five years ago, and I felt then as I do
now. This film is not a horror film. It's been wrongly judged in that
context due to the director's reputation. But I think history will show
that Dario Argento isn't really a horror filmmaker. Horror films
actually make up just a small percentage of his films and "The Stendhal
Syndrome" is no horror film.
Dario Argento is a genius. As an Italian director in the generation (and tradition) of Antonioni, his films are far more cerebral and avant-garde than the traditional horror fair of even Bava and the like. His films are Freudian investigations that exist somewhere between psychological thriller and horror. The violence is a device more so than a selling point.
It took a little while for "The Stendhal Syndrome" to make it to the States. I don't know why that is. But I'm sure there are some politics behind it as Argento is only too happy to criticize Hollywood and of the bad experiences he's had making films for major American studios. What's strange is that this DVD is on Troma (who I love in a weird way) instead of Anchor Bay who have been releasing most of the old Argento stuff on DVD.
"The Stendhal Syndrome" is something of a return to form for Argento. After a couple of severely hacked films done for American companies and a brief hiatus, this film was his chance to make a film strictly following his own muse and without the business end of the film industry in mind. Working with his daughter, Asia, for the second time he was able to explore darker subject matter. The previous time they worked together was on "Trauma" which, despite being ruined by an editing process aimed at success in the US horror market, still dealt with issues outside of the norm and deeper into his psychoanalytical fascination as the main character suffered from bulimia.
Asia Argento has carved a name for herself as an actor not afraid to play characters who either have severe psychological disorders or who has to face emotionally and physically abusive obstacles. In this film, she is a detective named Anna Manni sent to Florence to track down a serial rapist / killer known as Alfredo. While at the Uffizi Art Museum she not only discovers that she suffers from a mental disorder that makes her hallucinate that she is inside the paintings she's observing (the Stendhal Syndrome, of course). She passes out in the crowded museum only to discover she has a bloody lip and her gun has been stolen from her purse. Of course, it turns out that the gun is stolen by the serial rapist / killer who then becomes the pursuer and finds Argento in her hotel room. In a brutal and horrifying scene, Alfredo rapes the detective in her hotel room setting things in motion to create a long, complex story ending with a Hitchcock-ian twist.
Along the way, there are some classic Argento innovations with shot design and cinematography. Always an innovator that avoided any sort of computer special effects, there are some amazing sequences including a dreamlike sequence where Anna hallucinates that she sees Alfredo murder another one of his victims. In slow motion, we see the bullet leave the gun, through the wall of the victim's cheek, through her body and out the other side. In another sequence, Anna takes medication and we actually see the pills travel down her throat. This drawing of attention to otherwise mundane events is a lot like the gun battle scene in "Three Kings".
Another surreal moment happens when Anna reflects back to her first contact with one of Alfredo's victims. Rather than say it's a dream or use some sort of obvious special effect, the shot is designed so she can walk directly from one set to another. By betraying the cinematic illusion created by sets, it's an interesting twist on a dream sequence.
Argento has always been good with heightening tension with simple over the top acts done without fanfare. During the rape scene, one horrifying image that stayed with me was when Alfredo produced a razor blade out of his mouth during the rape scene. He claims that he needs to cut her lip so she looked just as she did when she passed out in the museum. The importance of that dialog offsets the fact that he's had a sharp razor in his mouth the entire time.
There are other Argento stand-bys. Soundscape is always very important to his film especially when used to heighten paranoia. Like some moments in "Suspiria", there are sequences in the film that use obtuse audio overdubs of chattering voices. While part of the background, they're recorded so manic and unrealistically, they become a reflection of the protagonist's psyche.
That day in the art museum becomes the factor that binds together Anna's disorder with her victimization by Alfredo. The use of this type of logic plays large in the film and forces the viewer to make a lot of otherwise unrealistic leaps of faith. That's always been part of Argento's style. His intellectual approach and matter of fact form of arguing his characters logic helps make it all believable no matter how absurd. Surrealism and special effects are blatant and never hidden. There are no tricks here that he doesn't want you to see.
A lot of people argue that this is one of his lesser works. I disagree. While nowhere in the area of "Profundo Rosso" or "Four Flies On Grey Velvet", I found the film to be gripping and fascinating. I suppose if you're looking for a horror film like "Suspiria" or "Opera", you'll be disappointed. But I think that this film is one of his better. It's certainly his best in recent times and I really can't think of another film like it.
5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
You can't take your eyes off it., 8 January 2000
Author: yogurt-3 from Canada
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
One of those rare instances when I rented a film with zero expectations and was actually surprised just how good it was. The film starts off confusing as hell but stick with it and you will be rewarded with answers. Argento always keeps you guessing what his characters are capable of and what they might do next. As with Argento's "Opera", the ending is the weakest piece of the puzzle, but what a trip to get there! The violence here is brutal rather than blood drenched like "Tenebre". Hard to watch but important to establish the mindset of both protagonist and villain. Not for everyone, but what Argento film is?
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Great psych horror, 28 April 2003
Author: Ron (ron_72180) from NYC
I wasnt too familiar with Dario Argento before this movie. I had seen the trailer for Stendhal Syndrome with the original Toxic Avenger video. It looked interesting. I bought the DVD and was floored. It's a disturbing piece that really makes you keep thinking about things. Asia Argento is incredible in this movie. What really sucks is the fact that the only reason people know her as an actress right now is from the crap she did in xXx. Asia Argento pulls off a great and complex performance. Dario Argento directed, in my opinion, one of the best later horror/psych movies. It has a few Hitchcockian elements and will keep you on the edge of your seat. Check this movie out.
3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
A haunting film that reminds us, art can be deadly., 27 October 2006
Author: AngryChair from Brentwood, USA
Brooding and powerful horror film by Dario Argento is perhaps his
finest film of the 90's, and certainly an unforgettable one!
Detective on the trail of a crazed rapist learns she has an illness where artwork puts her into trances, but that's the least of her worries when she becomes the obsession of the maniac she's after.
The Stendhal Sydrome is a truly dark and disturbing film. It packs bursts of bloody violence and lulls of chilling madness; it's a film that's psychologically disturbing as well as intensely suspenseful. Argento's direction is excellent, not only giving the film strong atmosphere but some sequences that are wonderfully dream-like and some nightmarish. The art direction is finely done. The special FX aren't bad either, even some early CGI is thrown in. Ennio Morricone's music score is a perfect piece to this film, very eerie.
Cast-wise the film isn't half bad either. Asia Argento makes for an acceptable heroine, but its Thomas Kretshman who does the best performance as the horrific yet handsome villain. Marco Leonardi is also good as Asia's co-worker; as is Julien Lambroschini as a young art student.
The Stendhal Sydrome isn't a film for all taste by any means. It's a brutal shocker that had best be avoided by the faint of heart. A must for Argento fans and a good find for those that like their horror films extra intense.
*** 1/2 out of ****
3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Brilliant, 9 April 2002
Author: jonnykungfu from Thibodaux, Louisiana
Ok, I'll start off by saying this is my first Argento movie (I guess that makes me a horror poser), but I don't see why everyone is so upset about it. I think it's an incredible movie. I couldn't stop watching it, and I can't say that about a lot of movies. This is one of the most emotional movies I've seen. It's a great thriller with some nice visual effects as well. If this is his worst movie, then I have to see the others!
4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Quite Interesting if a Bit Slow, 2 April 2004
Author: konky2000 from Oakland, CA
This movie is structured in such a way that the 'climax' appears to occur
much earlier than one would expect. I was left wondering what in the world
Argento was going to do to keep the action going. I was eventually thrilled
by the result, but I still must admit that there was a 15 minute stretch in
the middle when I just couldn't figure out at all where the movie was
headed. In this way, the structure reminded me a bit of
Unfortunately, the one thing that is usually the best in Argento's work -- the cinematography -- is obscured by an unbelievably bad DVD transfer by Troma. Compared to Anchor Bay's treatment of films like Deep Red and Phenomena, Troma's release of Stendahl Syndrome looks like a 3rd generation VHS. If you care about your DVD transfer quality, you definately need to preview this one before buying it. Movie 7/10, DVD transfer 2/10.
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