The Stendhal Syndrome (La sindrome di Stendhal) (1996)

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THE STENDHAL SYNDROME

Directed by Dario Argento

Also known as Florence Syndrome, Stendhal Syndrome has been described as a psychosomatic illness that causes rapid heartbeat, fainting, confusion and even hallucinations in people who are exposed to extraordinary artistic achievement, whether it is paintings or sculptures.

The Telegraph, Saturday 12 April 2014

Stars Asia Argento as Anna Manni, Thomas Kretschmann as Alfredo Grossi, Marco Leonardi as Marco Longhi, Luigi Diberti as Inspector Manetti, Paolo Bonacelli as Dr. Cavanna and Julien Lambroschini as Marie Beyle (a tribute to Marie-Henri Beyle, the real name of 19th-century French author Stendhal after whom the actual syndrome was named).

Asia Argento stars as Assistant Inspector Anna Manni, a young woman who suffers from Stendhal Syndrome who loses her memory after a visit to an art museum. While in this ‘state’ she meets the serial rapist turned killer who she is looking for. She starts seeing a psychologist, at the request of her inspector, who suggests she spend time with her family. While there Anna does a spot of painting herself and continues to work long distance on the case with the help of Marco, contacting the killer’s rape victims and families. She is then captured, raped and brutalised by the killer. That’s as far as I want to go with the plot; I don’t want to give too much away.

Asia Argento’s performance is off the chart in this surreal masterpiece directed by her father, Dario Argento. The first Italian feature film to use CGI, reportedly, and yes it looks pretty basic in places but strangely it works anyway, I thought so. I don’t think it’s that highly regarded amongst other Argento films which, if true, is pretty hard to understand. This is Argento at his best in my opinion and Asia is tremendous.

The only downside for me is that the film is apparently slightly cut, even though this is definitely another triumph for Arrow; I know there’s a scene where Asia simulates fellatio on a gun barrel which is missing, damn shame, I would’ve loved to see that personally. What else is missing? I don’t know but I respect Arrow for releasing as much as they could of this work of genius, and a lot of its goodness is clearly intact, just sad we are ruled by people who can’t handle films like this in their entirety and have the power to spoil things for the rest of us.

Another highlight is the soundtrack by Ennio Morricone, the music plays the same tune forwards as backwards apparently, I haven’t tested it like but weird anyway! But returning to Asia, she goes from brunette to short-cropped brunette to blonde-wig like some kind of delicious chameleon and acts her panties off, sadly not literally, although at my age I doubt my heart could take something like that. MAYBE THAT’S IN THE UNCUT VERSION!!!

Where was I? Yeah, The Stendhal Syndrome, well, it’s a strange film, beautifully made, kinda brutal in places, probably more so completely uncut, and how many times have I seen this film? I dunno. I fucking love it! I’ve read some reviews that say it’s kinda hard to describe, it is, Argento’s films are really. When I was writing the synopsis I felt the plot slipping away a little as I thought about certain scenes slightly more deeply than usual, Argento’s films can be fairly dreamlike to the point that the plot almost stops mattering, no shit, and you’re just sucked the fuck in. Of course it gets 100%, it’s the master. Argento puts me in a sort of trance, in his best stuff, and I’m not going to apologise for that. Will you, reading this, feel the same? I have no fucking clue.

Hugely recommended as an Argento nut.

This is a poster I made just because I love this film so much!

TheStendhalSyndrome(1)