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DVD Review

DVD cover

The Stendhal Syndrome


Starring: Asia Argento, Thomas Kretschmann and Marco Leonardi
Arrow Video
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: 18
Available 22 March 2010

Anna Manni is a detective in Rome's Anti-Rape Unit. Whilst on the hunt for a serial rapist and killer, she is given an anonymous tip-off as to his whereabouts. When she arrives to apprehend him at an art gallery the elaborate classic paintings overwhelm her and she passes-out, hitting her head on a table. When she regains consciousness her gun has gone from her bag, but she doesn't know who she is and can't recall what happened. A man offers her money for a taxi to her apartment, the key for which she finds in her bag. As she begins to recover her identity, she is attacked and raped by the same man - the person the police are searching for - using her weakness around works of art against her. The psychologist she is assigned to informs her she has Stendhal Syndrome, which causes intensive illusions in the presence of fine art. The killer begins to take an altogether unhealthy interest in Anna, finally kidnapping her and keeping her bound. However, when Anna manages to get the upper hand her police colleagues believe the killer is dead. But Anna isn't convinced...

This is another of the current DVD releases of Dario Argento films, this time starring the director's daughter Asia Argento. The recently reviewed The Card Player was originally intended as a sequel to this movie, but ultimately it took on it's own individual identity. That was to prove a blessing of sorts, as The Card Player is in my opinion a finer film - aside, perhaps, from the predictable ending.

The Stendhal Syndrome feels like an extremely long viewing experience; although the running time is 118 minutes, the structure is that of three conjoined segments, each differing only slightly from the last. Anna is effectively made a victim three times, and it makes you wonder where her colleagues are all this time. You wouldn't think they would let her out of their sight, and as a previous victim in reality she would have been removed from the case and sent far away to undergo convalescence. Still this is based on a novel, and it's necessary to suspend a little disbelief otherwise we wouldn't have a story.

It's a reasonably good film, well acted, but the concept of entering a painting or having a dark figure emerge from one is not exploited enough for my liking. The scene in which she becomes the art she is afraid of by painting herself, becomes superfluous as the character of Anna learns nothing from the experience.

Again, the packaging is good, with a double-sided sleeve, a collector's booklet and a poster. The disc extras are limited to a theatrical trailer, and some trailers from Argento's other films.


Ty Power

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