The killer with the mask and the red handkerchief.
Etienne Perier epitomizes the French cinema de qualité .He mainly worked for the TV ,and his handful of movies show a taste for detective stories:in 1959,in the wake of Clouzot(Diabolique) and Hitchcock(Vertigo)he adapted Boileau Narcejac's "à coeur perdu " (which became "meurtre en 45 tours"),with fair results but which pales next to the two other works.He would continue in this vein with "un meurtre est un meurtre" (1971) which looked like sub -Chabrol."La main à couper" (1973) ,on the other hand ,unlike Chabrol,seemed like a pean to the bourgeoisie.His fin de decade film "Un si joli village" (1978) mixed the thriller elements with a political side à la Yves Boisset or André Cayatte:it remained his more satisfying effort.
"Rouge Venise" ,an overlooked film ,which is Perier's last for the movie theaters ,tried to mix Venice in the eighteenth century atmosphere with a serial killer story:a splendid idea indeed;certainly the most ambitious in the director's canon,probably influenced by Jean-Jacques Annaud's "the name of the rose".One must say that the cinematography is stunning and dazzling and really takes us to Venice ,with its palaces,its carnival,its dark alleys.The writers smartly uses real characters (playwright Carlo Goldoni,and Antonio Vivaldi who provides the excellent soundtrack) and makes them the heroes of a thriller in period costumes.There's just one problem:the film moves too slow,the scenes of crime are not suspenseful -the killer leaves on his victims a red handkerchief-,and the final revelation -when they takes off the killer's mask- disappointing.
And all in all ,the main idea had already been used in "Il fornaretto di Venezia"(1963) which,with lesser means ,made up for it with a much superior screenplay."Rouge Venise" is finally nothing more than a curio.
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