Customer Review

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Definitely flawed, but worth seeing if you're a fan. 2.5/5, November 23, 2004
This review is from: The Stendhal Syndrome (DVD)
I've seen this movie only once, and only a couple of days ago, but details are becoming vaguer and vaguer in my mind. This is never a good sign. It was watchable, definitely, and it generated a very strong, surreal atmosphere throughout the first half, but it fails to go anywhere terribly interesting, and gets increasingly dull as the film goes along. It's still worth seeing if you're a fan of Dario Argento, but if you aren't there are a helluva lot of others films you need to see first.

The film stars Asia Argento as a detective on the track of a serial rapist/murderer, who becomes the victim said criminal shortly after she is succumbs to the Stendhal Syndrome.(i.e. a strong physical reaction to a piece of art. Fainting is the symptom in her case) There's not much of a plot-arc here, as after the setup it is just sort of a portrait of her life, as she takes a turn for the nutty after her experience, and is again victimized by the still at-large killer. Much of the early film is quite compelling, as Asia lives in a world somewhere between reality in fantasy, where she walks in and out of paintings, accompanied by Ennio Morricone's repetitive and haunting score. However, the more surreal aspects of the film are de-emphasized in the latter portions, and are, sadly, not replaced by increased plot development or action. And, even the effective earlier portions tends to be less effective than his Dario's best work. My problem with the second half is probably heightened by the fact that I stumbled across what happens at the end of the film before actually viewing it. However, this is true of most of the Argento films I've seen, and none of the others have faultered in the latter portions to nearly the same extent. Beyond this, the hints as to the conclusion of the film are so incredibly blatant that I suspect most viewers will have no difficulty figuring it out long before the ending, though I certainly couldn't say for certain.(I'm also perhaps a bit influenced some of the reviews I've read before hand, which said that it started pretty strong but got boring by the second half. But I kinda doubt this effected me too much. There just isn't anything of interest going on in most of the second half of the film.)

Many people have talked about how disturbing the rape-scenes in this film are. Personally I'm not affected by them much. I guess this is because rape is, presumably, most disturbing and painful from a psychological standpoint, and I just can't connect that way. But, lots of people are disturbed by them, so consider yourself warned. This is a different sort of thriller than most of Argento's most famous work, so there is less of an emphasis on the horror set-piece. What this comes down to is that there aren't any really effective horror or violence related scenes in the film. Most horribly, they use some absolutely hideous computer animation for some gore and other visual effects. If you can't afford decent CGI, don't use it, for God's sake!

The acting is a mixed bag, as usual. Asia is acceptable, if not amazing, other than in the scenes where she is supposed to be 'tough' which she can't pull of at all. The rapist is pretty good too, very creepy while still seeming more or less human. No one else in the film is worthy of particular mention.

As many have said, the DVD does look rather crappy, though it isn't quite as bad as I'd imagined considering just how maligned it is.(It's not far off, however) Still, if you're expecting something like the various Anchor Bay releases of Dario Argento's films your gonna be in for a nasty surprise.

Definitely subpar, but with enough effective aspects to make it worth checking out, it you're into this sort of stuff.
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3.3 out of 5 stars (70 customer reviews)
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