Giallo Dario Argento

Giallo Dario Argento
Fumbling in recent years (despite top-notch kills in the otherwise dodgy Mother of Tears), Argento nearly drops the ball completely with Giallo. He's credited as writer and director, though web gossip claims this was more of a work for hire gig for the Italian master responsible for classics like Susperia and the underrated Inferno. Trying on a serial killer detective procedural is a change of pace, of sorts, though Argento's flair for gore is unsettling even when restrained. Emmanuelle Seigner plays Linda, a flight attendant meeting up with her sister, Celine, in Torino. Echoing The Bone Collector, Celine is picked up by the wrong cabbie, managing to call her sister before being subdued. Linda goes to the police (and Seigner enters the wide-eyed approximation of panic mode she relies on for the bulk of her performance) and they pass her off to Detective Enzo Avolfi, intended to be an eccentric, but he's mostly just antisocial. The mention of "abducted by cab" sets off alarm bells in Enzo's head, connecting Celine to a particularly nasty case he's working. None of the typical romantic tensions are formed between Linda and Enzo; she's swept into his world and both of them pursue the killer with equal zeal, but slightly differing motivations. Enzo, of course, has a dark past that makes him uniquely suited to tracking a sociopath. Due to a victim's death yammer about his skin colour, they call the killer "Yellow" (giallo is the Italian word for yellow, and the name of the genre of horror Argento is famous for). It's possible to read some subtext into this about Argento trying to kill a part of his past work while transitioning to a new genre, but I could just be looking for deeper meaning in simple mediocrity. There could be more to it than that though; Adrien Brody plays both Yellow and Enzo, a fact completely lost on me through two viewings. I actually have a note deriding the performance of the killer, all hammy tantrums, bizarre voice and horrible make up, and praising Brody's subdued intensity and workmanlike delivery as Enzo. Composer Marco Werba's Elfman-biting score is sprightly and Argento still lays claim to a handful of beautiful shots, but much of the film feels rushed, especially a terrible climactic scene and a tacked on second ending to offset the lacklustre dark finish, even though it has no real connection to the primary characters' journeys. In lieu of a proper ball handling metaphor to tidily wrap things up, with his latest, Argento hasn't shit the bed; he's merely pissed it. (E1)