Giallo (Dario Argento, 2009)
Dario Argento has, over the last couple of decades, become a shadow of his former self, a parody of the director who gave us such classic gialli as Profondo Rosso, Suspiria, and Four Flies on Grey Velvet, three of the finest mysteries ever committed to celluloid. More recent efforts—The Card Player, Mother of Tears, Do You Like Hitchcock?, etc.—have been, at best, silly and derivative. Which made Giallo something of a pleasant surprise. While it is in no way up to, or even close to, the standards Argento set for giallo films in the seventies, it’s some of his best work in at least the past two decades.
Plot: a crazed killer, known only as Yellow (Adrien Brody, sporting some fun facial prosthetics) because of his advanced jaundice, uses his job as a taxi driver to abduct beautiful women, take them to his basement torture chamber, and do nasty things to them. His latest victim is Celine (Snakes on a Plane‘s Elsa Pataky), a supermodel whose sister, Linda (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly‘s Emmanuelle Seigner), has just gotten into town to see her. Linda enlists the help of a New York detective, Enzo Avolfi (also played by Brody), in trying to find the killer before Celine’s life is forfeit.
It has been noted in a few reviews that despite the movie’s name, this isn’t really a giallo. It does have a number of the hallmarks of the genre (most notably, there’s no real motive for the killer to do what he does, he’s just nuts), but it does come off more as a mystery/thriller with a couple of moments that tread in torture porn territory. This is not necessarily a bad thing; Argento’s attempts at making gialli recently have been pretty miserable failures. It’s also Argento’s first feature on which he wasn’t the principal writer; this turned out to be a very good idea indeed, as the script, especially the final twist (something I can’t imagine Argento doing, which made it a double whammy), is markedly superior to Argento’s recent efforts. Brody plays the killer very well, overacting very nicely in comparison to the brooding, mumbling detective (I’ve seen some criticism of Brody’s portrayal of the detective, but I had no problems with him here), and while Seigner doesn’t turn in her best effort, she does well enough. While you would be better served watching one of Argento’s seventies classics again, this isn’t terrible. ** ½
Trailer. Unsubbed, natch.