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La Sindrome di Stendhal

The Stendhal Syndrome

Italy 1996
produced by
Dario Argento, Giuseppe Colombo, for Medusa Produzione, Cine 2000
directed by Dario Argento
starring Asia Argento, Thomas Kretschmann, Marco Leonardi, Luigi Diberti, Paolo Bonacelli, Julien Lambroschini, John Quentin, Franco Diogene, Lucia Stara, Sonia Topazio, Lorenco Crespi, Vera Gemma, Cinzia Monreale
screenplay by Dario Argento, Franco Ferrini, based on a novel by Graziella Margherini, music by Ennio Morricone, visual effects by Sergio Stivaletti

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Police detective Anna Manni (Asia Argento) is trying to track town a rapist/killer, & her trail leads her from Rome to Florence, where she is to meet the killer in the Ufficies Gallery ... instead she becomes so lost int he works of art exhibited n the gallery that she thinks she is actually entering them, & she faints in the process (this condition is called the Stendhal Syndrome, hence the title).

Waking up, she suffers from memory loss, but is lucky enough to meet Alfredo (Thomas Kretschmann), who helps her find the adress of her hotel & pays her fare for the taxi ...  of course later that night Alfredo shows his true colours when he enters her hotelroom & brutally rapes her until she faints. Then he drags the unconscious Anna out into his car, & rapes a woman (Sonia Topazio) next to her, whom he shoots once Anna wakes up again ...

Later, back in Rome, with her memory restored, Anna finds it difficult to adjust to her life, her job & most of all her boyfriend Marco (Marco Longhi), whom she at one point tries to rape (!) ...

Hearing of her problems, her psychiatrist Dr Cavanna (Paolo Bonacelli) suggests that Anna takes some time off to spend with her family in a little village not far from home, to which she agrees, even though she doesn't really get along with her narrow-minded father (John Quentin) & her brothers have a talent of getting on her nerves ... & then of course she is convinced that rapist/killer Alfredo will come back to her ...

Of course Anna is right, as soon in the village a shop assistant (Lucia Stara) is found raped & murdered, & een the 2 cops guarding her front door can't stop Alfredo from kidnapping Anna one night, abducting her to an abandoned warehouse covered in grafitti (also works of art in a sense) to use her strange condition (the Stendhal Syndrome) against her, tying her to a matress, & there he repeatedly rapes her.

Again though, Alfredo refrains from killing Anna, instead leaves her tied to the matress during the day, to come back the next night for more fun & games. But Anna has used the day to free herself & when Alfredo wgain wants to have his way with Anna, she rams 2 springs from the matress into his throat.

A violent fight ensues, at the end of which Anna shoots Alfredo into the stomach & throws him into the nearby river ...

& while Anna tries to return to her normal life, Alfredo's body is never fond, & she soon becomes convinced - against the beliefs of everyone else - that Alfredo is still alive just waiting to get back at her ...

Soon, Anna meets Marie (Julien Lambroschini), a (male) French art student, & the 2 become lovers ... until one day anna receives a phonecall from Alfredo threatening to kill Marie out of jealousy - but again, nobody but Anna believes that it was really Alfredo calling. Marie is shot nevertheless.

A few days later, Alfredo's dead body is actually found in the river, & he mast have been dead for quite some time (actually since Anna has killed him), which rather rules him out for killing Marie.

Psychiatrist Cavanna visits Anna to find out the truth anbout Marie's death ... & gets shot by Anna as a reward for it.

Marco, who stops by finds the body in Anna's flat & now realizes what has been going on, that Anna has been killing Cavanna & Marie because she thinks she has, by killing Alfredo, taken over his personality (which was actually a defense mechanism to deal with all her negative experiences). Foolishly though Marco thinks he has calmed her down to take her into custody, only to be killed by her himself ...

Only then is Anna apprehended by the police - her own colleagues actually - who have since gotten onto her trail.

 

In pure cinematic inventiveness, Stendhal Syndrome (or anything Dario Argento hads done since, say, 1985) is of course no match for his classics from the 1970's (e.g. Suspiria, Inferno, Profondo Rosso), it does however feature a very interesting plot (which was not always the case in Argento's classics) that takes quite a few unusual twists & turns, & the almost lyrical cinematic style Argento uses for this movie does correspond nicely with the story (that, after all, does deal with the arts). A reasonable portion of suspense of course doesn't hurt either, so all this results in maybe not a typical Dario-Argento-movie (but let's face it, there are enough of those already) but certainly his best 1990's movie.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Thanks for watching !!!

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD

 

 

Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...

 

Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!

 

Bauliche Angelegenheiten
ein Roman von
Michael Haberfelner

 

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