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Anna Battista is a young, popular, 24-year-old Italian-born International film actress who engages herself on a hectic and self-destructive spree which takes her across Europe and to America to shed her "boy-toy" image to become an "artist" in order to write and direct herself in a semi-biography movie of herself titled "Scarlet Diva." After working in Rome, and winning a presigious film award in Milan, Anna travels to Paris to save her best friend from an abusive relationship, then avoids sleazy film producers in Los Angeles, meets and falls in love with a rock star who abandons her, finds out later that she's pregnant, and begins using drugs to numb her pain at this predictament she's gotten herself into.Written by
Autobiographical, pretentious and self-indulgent debut film
Scarlet Diva is Asia Argento's first serious attempt at directing a feature-length movie after a brief but successful acting career. It tells the story of Anna Battista and her first serious attempt at directing a feature-length movie after a brief but successful acting career. Sounds like another example of every debut film turning out autobiographical and, in most cases, pretentious and self-indulgent? Yes indeed, Scarlet Diva is all of these.
25-year-old Asia Argento learnt her trade on set with her father, Dario Argento, Italy's very own horror-film specialist. Having starred in many of her dad's gore-fests but also in more mainstream films like La Reine Margot or last year's B. Monkey she is now out to make a name for herself in the writing/directing business. While she comes a cropper in the writing department (the story is very simple, and some of the dialogue is excruciatingly self-important), it has to be said that the film has style, of a kind. Its use of video footage, the fast editing and the pumping soundtrack go some way towards deflecting attention from both the miserable script and the inept cast. Apart, that is, from Ms Argento herself who, in the title role as Anna Battista aka Scarlet Diva, somehow manages to keep her head above water as the rest of one of the worst acting ensembles for some time (the scenes in Los Angeles are especially bad) go under and stay under.
In both form and content, there are parallels between Scarlet Diva and Baise-moi, the French scandal-film par excellence. We are given (relatively) graphic rape scenes, a whole sex-drugs-and-rock n roll attitude, and the main character(s) portrayed as victim(s) of the system (in this case the movie production system). Although any comparison with a thoroughly distasteful product like Baise-moi may well have put you off giving the film a chance, not everything about Scarlet Diva is wholly bad. The improvised home-movie style gives the film a pacey and refreshingly amateurish feel that is pretty rare in cinema nowadays. But even that faint praise cannot make up for the sheer pretentiousness and exhibitionism that Asia Argento treats herself to. And there's some dodgy religious imagery to boot. A little more subtlety would certainly have done a lot to improve this film, a film incidentally that would never have seen the light of day had the leading lady not received some timely financial help from daddy and his associates.
A typical debut film, then, from a first-time director, but still interesting enough, if only for us diehard film fans and for any wannabe anarchists out there.
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