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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
T. Kretschmann (playing killer, rapist, Alfredo Grossi) said on set: "Dario has let me use my fantasies." e.g. that the attack, sucking on the gun barrel was his improvisation idea, which director Argento initially disliked: "He wasn't keen on the gun blow-job at first, but I won him around." [interview; 'Cinefantastique' magazine; April '96.] See more »
Though featuring prominently during the film's opening sequence set at the Uffizi in Florecne, Peter Bruegel's 'Landscape with the Fall of Icarus' is actually housed at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels. See more »
US DVD release by Troma release is the complete version of the English language edition, but, like all English releases, is still missing around 2 minutes of material exclusive to the Italian print. See more »
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.
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