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An FBI agent with deep rooted past issues is on the prowl for the infamous Serial Killer, " Giallo ( Yellow) " as he is known. No ordinary Killer ...he seeks victims that are beautiful women only to disfigure and eventually kill them off. This time he has captured a beautiful model and our Agent ( Brody) must find him before he commits his latest victims fate. Chilly Thiriller from master Director, Dario Argento.... Not to miss
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going in to this movie, i wasn't expecting very much. at best, i figured the title of the film was a cheap cash-in on the director's legendary output. something to get "nerds" like myself to pony up the funds to watch some new argento. i hadn't really dug anything recent from argento, and it certainly seemed like the glory days were long gone.
maybe going in with little expectation helped, but this film is a huge improvement over the weak tv-movie vibe of "mother of tears" and certainly a major improvement in the acting department. having adrian brody on board absolutely bumped this film up 10x. granted, he doesn't have TONS of stuff to do in the film, and he plays it straight as the detective with a troubled past who has his "own methods" for catching the psycho killer. typically his character would've been staffed by a no-name or has-been actor who really phones it in. having someone of his caliber on board makes his character stick out, and this film infinitely more watchable. argento keeps brody in the spotlight damn near the entire film, and i daresay his character is more important in the end than the actual killer is.
the cinematography alone is a thousand times better than the bland, ho-hum look of latter day argento output. this has warmth and class when zooming around the city and a suitably dank look in the killer's "dungeon" attention to detail in these areas makes a difference. you've also got a more fleshed out story that makes more sense. everyone who follows argento knows it's usually been style over substance. his dream-like images and narratives being the important than the acting and the logic of the story. in my opinion, this film turns that around. we've got a simple story that makes sense with actors who act believably! (as opposed to mother of tears...yikes!)
i think alot of argento "fanboys" have a hard time criticizing because love of his earlier films carries them through some not-so-great current work. choking down some banal by-the-numbers thriller just because the director USED to make amazing movies is not something i'm interested in. dario can't make 1001 movies that look and act just like the films his legion of "nerd-fans" (myself included) love. he needs to make movies that regular folk would want to go see. i think this is one of the first films that would work for a wider audience beyond the film student, gore-fan, or argento completist.
admittedly, i'm a huge argento fan, and i was going to see this no matter what. there's little sense in denying the maestro's work really has suffered over the last few films. giallo is a MUCH better film than people are giving it credit for online and in reviews. it's NOT suspiria, it's not deep red or cat o nine tails....(it's also NOT the 1970's either) those films had their time and their place. in order to stay relevant, more modern approaches are needed. you can't expect to see a bunch of crazy lighting and wacky camera angles like it's 1970.
granted, it's not all roses here. the character of "linda" played by emmanuelle seigner isn't always believable, and the fact that for most of the movie she's tramping around with "inspector enzo" and viewing police scenes and documents like she's his partner is a little far-fetched. a few times she was asked to leave, or stepped out...but she basically just latches onto inspector enzo and just stays there. i know she was supposed to be grief-stricken and desperate to find her sister, but cmon.
i also had a little trouble with "giallo" himself. he speaks english with a broken italian accent but the voice is a little humorous the first time you hear it. you DONT want people to chuckle when they hear the killer for the first time! it reminded me of fulci's new york ripper where the killer quacks like a duck. later on though, you get used to it and the broken english "caveman" lines he throws out kinda worked! "i die...she die" anyhow, a little more creepiness in his voice or even effects to make it deeper or more disturbing would've helped there.
the classic argento gore was in place for this film....a hammer smashing to the face is shown, for example....but there were cutaways from the violence occasionally when i would've like to see a grittier show-it-all vibe. although that movie sucked, mother of tears went pretty crazy with the gore. argento had some trend-setting violence is his early films, so it's not like he's a stranger to it, and restraint in the gore keeps it classier, as we don't need argento to hop aboard the annoying "hostel, saw..blahblahblah trend" but they cutaway from a lip being cut with a scissors, and show a face pummelling with a hammer?!?!
all said, this is a current, well-shot thriller...and there's nothing wrong with that!
The story is serviceable enough, with model Elsa Pataky abducted by a deformed serial killer who likes to take his time destroying beautiful things and her frantic sister (a haggard Emmanuelle Seigner) teaming up with Adrian Brody's broody Italian-American cop to find her while there's still enough of her to find. Despite the set-up, it avoids going the Eli Roth torture porn route, but there are few of Argento's signature flourishes. Not only are the gloves literally off but the film's one 'big' death scene is nothing to write home about: just a simple fall from a tall building. Worse, a couple of minor twists aside, the plot just plods along with not much happening until the last half hour before a last scene that feels like it was tacked on not so much to give the film a happy ending but because what you suspect was the original ending didn't pack enough of a punch.
While it's generally better executed, there are fewer ideas to play with than his less than impressive Mother of Tears, and what there are are fairly familiar cop movie clichés. True, Adrien Brody's lone cop does have a rather neat backstory explaining why he has a talent for tracking down predatory killers, but the early hints of having a damaging Will Graham-like empathy with his killer come to nothing despite Brody playing both hunters because they're such wildly different performances linked only by silly voices (a grizzled Jack Nicholson-Mickey Rourke hybrid for the cop and an Italian Quasimodo for the killer). It's probably the killer's voice that provided the lion's share of the laughs to those derisive festival audiences, but Brody Methodically overdoes the tortured doleful looks as the cop, at times looking like the Eighth Dwarf, Goatee, after Snow White bit the apple.
On the plus side, thanks to Frederic Fasano's cinematography it's the best-looking Argento film in years. It's not a return to the extreme and vivid colors of the Suspiria years but it's a welcome move away from the pallid and lifeless look of many of his latter movies to something with a bit more warmth to its color scheme and a good eye for the Turin locations. But overall, despite all the Argento touchstones the writers incorporated in the screenplay, it's a rather soft by-the-numbers effort that could have been made by almost any capable director whose heart wasn't quite in it but still tried to make the best of what he had to work with. You won't have trouble making it through to the end, but you won't have trouble sleeping after seeing it either.
STARRING: Adrien Brody, Emmanuelle Seigner, Elsa Pataky and Robert Miano
WRITTEN BY: Dario Argento, Jim Agnew and Sean Keller
DIRECTED BY: Dario Argento
Genre: Horror / Thriller
Release Date: 06 November 2009
`Giallo' has a duel meaning: it's Italian for yellow, and it also refers to a particular type of filmmaking in which the focus is on the crime fiction and mystery genre. Whichever definition you choose to go with, both suit the new Adrien Brody thriller, Giallo. A guy with a rare skin virus that causes his skin to turn yellow is kidnapping and brutalizing women in Italy.
The sensational Adrien Brody stars as Inspector Enzo Avolfi. He's an American who has moved to Italy to dedicate his time to hunting down killers who prey on the innocence of women. His back story fuels this passion, and rightfully so.
Our crazed killer is a hideous man both physically and spiritually, who lures attractive young models into a taxi. He then drugs them, takes them back to his crypt of mayhem, and performs heinous acts of violence on them before dumping their bloodied bodies off in various locations throughout the city.
When her sister goes missing, Linda (Emmanuelle Seigner) is directed to the attention of Inspector Enzo. He lives in his underground office, surviving off of take in pizza boxes, and far off chances of hope. He has reason to believe that Linda's sister may be the yellow killer's latest victim. The two team up to track down the psychopath before it's too late.
I enjoyed this film, but a great deal of it was due mainly to the performance of Adrien Brody. I've become a huge fan of his, and make an effort to see everything he does. This is a small film for the Oscar winner, but you wouldn't know it based on his acting. He dives into his character, same as he would any huge Hollywood smash. I loved the look and attitude he gave Enzo, and the way he carried himself in this role. It was already interesting having a New Yorker working as a Detective in Europe; and Brody only granted Enzo more praise.
The film isn't perfect, but it is good. It's low budget but was handled with care and we've definitely seen a lot worse. There are some really intense moments and some great shots. I loved the wide shot of Enzo and Linda walking across a piazza and scaring off a cluster of pigeons.
My internet research has taught me that writer and director Dario Argento, has somewhat of a cult following and this may be how he was able to pocket Brody in the first place. Die-hard Argento fans seem to have mixed reviews on this particular piece. Having no room for comparison of his other work, I can only speak for Giallo, and say that it's worth a look.