La sindrome di Stendhal (The Stendhal Syndrome) (1996)
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Critic Reviews for La sindrome di Stendhal (The Stendhal Syndrome)
Blue Underground's Blu-ray release provides the film with its best home viewing presentation to date ....
The film should be approached ... less as delirious exploitation and more as a maturing director's next evolution ....
serves as a devastating, nihilistic attack on the failures--and fascinatingly, the successes--of Argento's oeuvre to this point.
Audience Reviews for La sindrome di Stendhal (The Stendhal Syndrome)
For Argento, this a 3/5, for any other director it could easily be a 4/5. I'll keep the better moments in mind and rate this 3.5 then. Some moments of hypnotizing cinematography that do START to communicate this sense of the "Stendhal Syndrome" but which never quite arrive there. An interesting plot which is about the same level of detail as any Argento - some have argued that this is less plotted, but those fools have obviously never noticed that the one thing Argento can never do well, perhaps because he has no interest in it, is plot, and that this film is pretty standard for barebones "just-get-me-to-the-next-overly-atmospheric-scene" Argento storytelling. This film does breakaway from standard Argento which lighting and sound to portray an overwhelming yet somehow still subtle sense of foreboding. In this film, we get that typical Argento style creepiness in the scenes involving paintings but he also experiments with a new style. Usually, we see through the killer's eyes, roughly following his perspective through many murders. Here the killer is out in open, speaking and interacting, while fully lit, to his victim and our protagonist. This is not a mysterious figure that the camera implies to be present; he is in full closeup and gets more than his share of screen time. One thing this character does for me is make me a bit glad Argento doesn't reveal his killers in this way in his other films simply because if they're anything like this guy, then it would be too realistically frightening and nearly no one could endure these films. For someone that avoids the realist approach to horror, the very realistic and frightening character unleashed on the screen here is an unexpected and refreshing take on horror from master Argento. Most Argento is about the central female character - usually played by Asia as here - and this film especially so. If this film is anything, it's a great vehicle for her to showcase her abilities and she plainly demonstrates that she's not just a director's daughter but a genuine talent. Most Fucked Up highlight: the second rape scene (in the manmade cave area beneath the waterfall)
I don't find myself saying this about most recent Dario Argento, where the holes in the plot only widen under scrutiny, but this film actually improves with repeated viewings. The first twenty minutes or so have an extraordinary hallucinatory quality and are quite masterfully directed. If the rest of the movie fails to live up to such a promising opening, the novel inversion of Dario's standard giallo format keeps us watching. Typically, an unknown killer, represented by a subjective camera, is unmasked from a group of suspects at the end of the picture; here, for once, we know the killer's identity from the outset, but he disappears into the shadows as the film progresses. Of course, there is a very good reason for this but, nevertheless, it's still an interesting stylistic departure. It's also refreshing not to have Dario resorting to outrageous trickery to hide his killer; what concealment there is plays pretty fair, though it's more transparent than subtle, unfortunately. Whatever its faults, this is still the best thing Argento's done since Opera - over 20 years ago! - and it's certainly his most disturbing film.
While a bit self indulgent at times...this was an interesting film, especially visually. While not perfect, one who has followed Asia Argento's work can see the progress in her acting abilities. Argento fans will appreciate the effort, but I don't think it for everyone.
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