Saturday, November 19, 2011

DEEP RED (Dario Argento, 1975, Italy)

A pianist must use his delicate hands to scrape away a mystery, revealing the bones of forgotten crime beneath plaster and paint. Dario Argento's Hitchcockian thriller is an admixture of Aphroditic humor and gruesome Thanatos, a bubbling cauldron of sexual innuendo and bloody in your-end-o.

Marcus Daly is a transplanted Englishman who witnesses a murder, and with the help of a feminist reporter he must solve the crime before he becomes victim of it. Argento once again questions reality and perspective, as Daly struggles to remember vital details (such as a painting) lost amid the convolutions of his brain, desperately trying to discover the electrical impulse that powers specific neurotransmitters, but left with a void in the synapse. His drunken friend is of little use as his recollection can be found at the bottom of a bottle, a ninety-proof memory. Between teeth chattering, face scalding, and hatchet wielding murder scenarios Daly must fend off the sexual advances of a rather cute reporter who tries desperately to bed him. This humor releases volatile tension and becomes important to the atmosphere of thick humors, expunging another type of bodily fluid.

The film is perfectly paced (this is the longer Italian cut) and each scenario dazzling and eerily beautiful, the murders shown in gruesome detail. The opening scene of domestic violence subsumes expected tranquility, as a creeping shadow cast larger than life commits it’s own violent covenant, and a child is left with the Christmas aftermath. Argento holds back vital clues and information from Daly and the viewer, leading the story from the haunted halls of a deserted villa to Leonardo Da Vinci’s childish scrawl. The subtext of feminine empowerment and equality plays an important role in solving the mystery, a nice twist in the narrative knot.

Marcus Daly is forced to reconsider his views on feminism and entitlement, as he finally sees his true self reflected in deep red.

Final Grade: (B+)