Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Giallo, Oh Dario Where Art Thou?

Adrien Brody in Giallo
Well that’s the question fans have been asking for years about Dario Argento, where is the director who gave us Suspiria, Bird with the Crystal Plumage, and Deep Red?  Maybe that’s a bit unfair but it seems for every semi decent project, there are a couple stinkers.  His Masters of Horror efforts were decent, some of the better of the series, but far from his heyday. When word got out he was working on a project called Giallo, fans got excited.  Dario was returning to the genre where he excelled, the Giallo.  Unfortunately Argento has pretty much disowned the film, unhappy with the cut forced upon him.  Not only that, but star Adrien Brody, successfully blocked it’s release due to issues with the producers.

Now however Giallo has finally been released. And the wait, well was kind of worth it.  It isn’t a horrible film, and Argento has done worse (Mother of Tears), but it is far from his best work. It also thematically falls far from his previous work.  Gone is any suspense about who the killer is, well almost all the suspense.  Going into the film I had no idea Adrien Brody was playing a double role, and within minutes I recognized the killer was Brody.  Until the killer is finally full on display I assumed Brody’s detective was moonlighting as the villainous “Giallo”.  I can only guess that was the Argento’s attempt at suspense.
Even the name of the film seems a misdirection of sorts.  Giallo, which means yellow in Italian, typically refers to a genre of films popular in Italy in which Argento was a master.  The term typically was reserved for horror/mystery films that were bloody and erotic.  The term giallo came as many of these were based on pulp novels with their yellow background and covers.  However the name of the movie Giallo, just as much refers to the killer, who is named “Giallo” due to his yellow tinted skin.  Jaundice just doesn’t have the same ring after all.
Unlike in his better films, there is little suspense, once you realize Brody isn’t the killer.  There also isn’t that much violence or sex.  Also none of the bright trippy colors and innovative camera work from his prime.  The story is maybe a bit clearer than in his classics, I have always found Dario’s narrative a bit confusing, but watching classic Argento is like riding a Space Mountain.  You’re there for the thrill of the ride, not the backstory.  I could actually keep up with this story and that made up for the lack of style.  Well just a little.  Dario Argento has himself disavowed the movie.  Normally I would think his cut would be better, but having seen the trailer for his Dracula, I’m afraid his cut would have been worse.  In all honesty I, like a lot of his fans, have lost faith in Argento.  At least lost faith in his ability to do what he has done best.

His best work lately, Jennifer and Pelts are far from his traditional fare.  Giallo, a return to his roots, is just kind of there.  It’s not unwatchable, and Adrien Brody plays a great detective.  However his villain, Giallo is nothing special.  The bad makeup can’t hide Brody’s features, and his mumbling is more annoying than chilling.  While it’s better than 90% of the crap released, it’s not the Master of Italian Giallo.   It’s better than Mother of Tears and appears to be light years better than Dracula, but it’s not quite as good as his Master of Horror episodes.

The film also stars Emanuelle Seigner, wife of accused pedophile Roman Polanski, and Elsa Pataky. Neither one is particulary interesting. Pataky spends most of the film screaming in the finest Giallo tradition.  Seigner just seems a bit lost, there's little to no chemistry between her and Brody and her character is very thinly written.  She like Pataky is more a plot device to move the film along, than an actual character.

Final verdict, it’s an ok watch.  Adrien Brody is fun to watch, at least in one of his roles.  It’s light on sex and nudity, and light on violence.  There are a couple of intense scenes but they are few and far between.  The ending was meant to be chilling, but just comes off as unfinished.  Don’t rush to buy unless you are a hardcore fan worshiping at Dario’s feet.  Everyone else should catch it on Netflix or cable.

1 comment:

  1. I would love to watch this movie, i heard so much good things about it, this is the best action movie for me , i am a fond of Sc-Fi Movies

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