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La terza madre (2007)
I can't believe it - Dario Argento is dead
"Bye Dario, I really loved you." - This is a quote from another IMDb-comment on this "film" and it also sums up my shattering, tragic conclusion. This terrible, disgustingly cheap and ridiculous mess of a "film" isn't the birth of the genius mind that gave us outstanding cinematic works of art, unique, sensual visions of the unhealthy organized and structured mankind from 1969 to 1998. It is the "work" of a former auteur who doesn't trust in his own creative power and talent anymore, of a director who now seems to unforgiving despise the gross of his (Horror-)fans who mostly never allowed him to develop his art in the direction he was interested in (the only thing most of them wanted to get from him were operatic murders, stunning images and Goblin music), who never accepted his attempts to do something different (I'm speaking of his brilliant 90ies works, "Trauma", "The Stendhal Syndrome" and "The Phantom of the Opera"). I can totally understand that Argento, my all-time favorite director, got angry about those fans and their never-changing expectations over the years and that he now took the opportunity to avenge himself (this suggestion - or should I write belief? - of mine is based on the final scene of the film which doesn't allow too many further interpretations) but admirers like me who never really doubted his artistic will for being uncomfortable or unfamiliar until he started to betray himself (it all started with the insecure and sadly accommodating "Sleepless" six years ago) can't feel anything else than anesthesia and some kind of deplorable ungratefulness. Beside that ugly meta-level (to create something shitty consciously to annoy unpleasant followers), it is quite obvious that Argento seems to have lost almost all of his skills, his inspirations, his knowledge, experience and will a few years ago and "La Terza Madre" is certainly the embarrassing and atrocious zenith of this development. This movie never, never manages (or wants to manage to) to build up a cinematic illusion, to be film. It doesn't feel like a film but like the "Making of" of an Argento Film, it looks like it was shot for TV (!!!) most of the time, though the Cinemascope-compositions are definitely designed for the huge screens, it looks cheap, the editing also is amateurish, the acting in an Argento Film has never been so ridiculous (Asia Argento has never been worse - she wasn't able to create the naive and otherworldly character her father designed for her to follow up Jessica Harper's Suzy Bannion of "Suspiria" (1977) and Leigh McCloskey's Mark Elliot of "Inferno" (1980)) as well as the pornographic dialogs. In most of Argentos features, the dialogs are weird and abstract, surreal due to their uninformatively and artificial manner. Here, it's just painfully dumb and absurd ("I'll take you to a great Belgian thinker, Dr. De Witt!") as almost everything. Even considering the fact that the original budget of 20 000 000 $ has been shortened to 3 500 000 $ when some of the American Co-Producers left the ship can be no apology for all of the films countless faults. Instead of removing the costly CGI-Sequences from the script, there are some of the worst and most trashy special effects (also in the dull and primitive Gore-Department - does Argento really need to spill so much blood in such a dumpy, meaningless way?! He never did something like this before, it all is nothing more than "exploitation" here) ever committed to the real screen (I mean - this is a theatrical film and it has been released in 300 cinemas in Italy!) since the early days of CGI. Intellectually, "La Terza Madre" is even more a disappointment. There's not much left of the themes Argento brought up in "Suspiria" and "Inferno" (or his entire former career), of the spiritual motive of an innocent character who has to learn how to survive in a society that doesn't allow individuality and personality, which alienated itself from its functions and its values. There are two scenes in which Argento both almost manages to create something like an atmosphere (this film hasn't got any atmosphere or mood) and return to those points: When Sarah Mandy (Asia) is chased by a Japanese witch (one of the rare convincing performances of the film: Jun Ichikawa of Ermanno Olmi's "Singing Behind Screens") through the Central Station of Rome which is packed with people and when a smiling but then crying mother throws her Baby off a Bridge into the Tiber. Those two scenes are 100 % Argento and depict some bits of imaginations what "La Terza Madre" could've been really like if its director wouldn't have decided to shoot a cheap, striking and risible Amateur-Movie. Yes, I'm serious - Dario Argento has gone to amateurish, uninspired fields with this long awaited film from which I already expected nothing great before the screening at Gérardmer, France. Is this a reflection on being Dario Argento in 2007 after 37 years of film-making or is it just an innocent but shameful failure, a bad joke? I don't know. But it's crap, that's for sure. "IT IS REAL", the American Trailer said. Yes, unfortunately it is - and isn't yet. It is so incredibly sad... I can't describe my even desperate feelings, my discomposure. Bye Dario, It's been a pleasure to know you. I don't want to meet you again in the future. 4/10 (and that's still an extremely generous rating).