A Rome policewoman teams up with a British Interpol agent to find a crafty serial killer who plays a taunting game of cat-and-mouse with the police by abducting and killing young women and showing it over an Internet web cam.
In Rome, after the abduction of a British tourist, the police inspector Anna Mari is contacted by the criminal, who self-entitles The Card Player, challenging the police department to dispute a video poker with him where the prize would be the life of the victim. The Chief of Police refuses to participate and the victim is tortured and killed in front of an Internet web cam. The British detective John Brennan is assigned to investigate the case and when another woman is kidnapped, they invite the addicted player Remo to play for the police. Anna and John lead the investigation trying to disclose who might be the serial-killer.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The idea behind 'The Card Player' came in 1996 just after the release of 'The Stendhal Syndrome' and was intended to be a sequel to 'The Stendhal Syndrome' titled 'In The Dark' with Asia Argento returning to portray the character of Anna Manni, but director Dario Argento then decided to make 'Phantom of the Opera' instead and the idea was abandoned. See more »
I have the good fortune to be working in Italy now and, as Dario Argento is my favorite filmmaker, I saw 'Il Cartaio' as soon as it came out here. Like 'Nonhosonno' it's a tense, unnerving urban thriller with a number of flaws but enough sublime moments to make it stand out above pretty much everything else playing at the moment. Gorehounds will be disappointed though, as 'Cartaio' eschews the over-the-top bloodshed of almost every previous Argento film. But most giallo buffs should find plenty of nerve-wracking thrills and intriguing plot twists to hold their attention.There are also sympathetic characters and great location-shooting in Rome.
I enjoyed Simonetti's electronic score, although I felt it was slightly overused in the second half of the film. It sets the scene nicely during the opening credits and is used to great effect in the 3rd murder sequence, a truly tense scene which really had my pulse-rate running! On the subject of the murder sequences, they rely on suggestion rather than visceral impact, but are mostly effective for the electrifying and perverse tension they exude. Of the numerous killings, two of the poker-game sequences (the second and the fourth) went on for too long and the victims' shrill screams started to get annoying.The other murders, though, were wonderfully timed and quite shocking, especially since the characters are surprisingly sympathetic and better-developed than in many other Argento films. Argento has never used such a minimalist approach before, and in my opinion it works, because when those creepy camera movements, stylistic flourishes, and visual enigmas do actually occur, they have all the more impact. I'm happy to see that Argento is continuing to mature and metamorphose as a film maker. But I also admit a desire that he'll return to the all-out gory shocks and high-baroque style of his earlier masterpieces. I give 'Il Cartaio' an 8/10, just below 'Nonhosonno'.
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