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>
On the only time filming has been permitted inside the Florence Uffizi gallery: "They will say yes, because of who [Dario Argento, director] is. No one cared in the States, but in Italy, Dario is God." [Luigi Cozzi, first assistant director, '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 »
The Italian release is around two minutes longer than the English export version, including an additional scene where Anna calls the husband of one of Alfredo's victims, and another where she meets Marie's mother, played by Veronica Lazar (whose name is included in the credits of all versions, even those in which she does not appear). See more »
Argento's vicious return to form, one of his most atmospheric and unsettling from start to finish,
Argento has been cursed with a number of duds in recent years. 'Two Evil Eyes', 'The Phantom of the Opera', 'Sleepless', 'The Card Player' and one of the worst MASTERS OF HORROR episodes yet 'Jenifer'. However, the beautiful, poignant 'The Stendhal Syndrome' is an extremely well crafted rose between a number of poisonous thorns. It sees a return to the atmospheric dream-like charm of his earlier films like 'Phenomena' and 'Suspiria', but adopting his more recent sadism (it's always there, just a different style in his newer films) that gave slight high points in his otherwise dull modern films. After two poorly reviewed films ('Trauma' and 'Two Evil Eyes') Argento has finally done it right.
The film stars his daughter, Asia (whose interesting relationship with Dario adds to the intriguing and off-beat persona he puts out), as Anna, a beautiful police detective in Rome. When she is targeted by the serial killer she is hunting, she is raped and beaten and so leads Argento's best character study and one of the most intense of his films to date. Rather than following the madman as he offs prostitutes and impressionable young women through Italy (the film lightly touches on it, but the more left to the imagination the better), the film follows Anna as she loses grip on reality and develops a strange disease in which she can ever paintings in her mind and they help solve the case, called the Stendhal Syndrome. As the film goes on the attacks on Anna become more and more vicious, and the final climatic ending is one of Argento's best.
Asia delivers a interesting performance, to say it is good is to stretch the truth, but it is suited to the role and you can tell she has a lot of acting talent. All the other performances are rather flat, but as with all of Agento's films the performances aren't what really matter. The cinematography is bland, but as with Asia's performance suits the film better than if it were Technicolor. The tension and music is amazing, the film devotes itself to really unsettling you, rather than just entertaining you like other recent Argento's. 'The Stendhal Syndrome' is probably the most violent and disturbing I've seen the man go, the rape and murder scenes are gratuitously sadistic and the scenes where Anna is raped are bordering on exploitation.
Overall 'The Stendhal Syndrome' is a fantastic return to form fr Argento, and I hope 'The Third Mother' is anywhere near as well-crafted as this.
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