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Stendhal Syndrome

Asia Argento , Thomas Kretschmann , Dario Argento    Unrated   DVD
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
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The first half of Dario Argento's heady psycho-thriller is a mesmerizing merging of dream and reality. A beautiful young Italian detective (Asia Argento, who does little to convince us she's a tough, seasoned cop) investigating a serial rapist is suddenly overwhelmed when the paintings in an art museum erupt with life. According to the film, this is "the Stendhal Syndrome," an intense and overwhelming response to art that turns the viewer mad. As Anna steps in and out of fantasy worlds like Alice through the looking glass, she's kidnapped by her quarry, who repeatedly rapes and tortures her in a dark, dank underground cave. The delirious nightmare of shattered reality becomes a sadistic, mean-spirited spectacle of murder and degradation--perpetrated on, of all people, the director's own bound and beaten daughter!--and the thriller disintegrates into a paranoid mystery of amnesia, split psyches, and shadowy phantoms. At its best this is a mesmerizing vision of madness: paintings melt into the real world while objectivity disintegrates before our eyes. But before the unexpectedly sensitive conclusion, Argento puts the viewer through a bravura but brutal series of gory murders (a slow-motion bullet passes through both cheeks of a helpless victim, and another shooting is viewed from inside the body) and unsavory violence. The poetic beauty of Phenomenon and the craftsmanship of Suspiria and Deep Red are sorely missed. --Sean Axmaker

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Well, I'm the only female reviewing this film. Figures.
That's why nobody else seems to have caught on to what this film is really about.;)
In all seriousness, this film is NOT a highly "visual" treat like Dario's other spectacles. This film is about how rape and violence against women can change their entire world.
If you take care to pay attention to details, the truth is evident. Asia, playing Anna, is SUPERB in her role, and shows great flexibility. The only complaint is that they DUBBED her voice (shame shame) because her voice is gorgeous (they replaced it with a rather boring one too).
The movie is basically about how it is to live in a man's world. Like I said, the details. Pay attention to them fellows. She is oppressed not just by the rapes but by men, in general.
And another thing, not many understand this part either, but the psychiatrist was not exactly who you thought he was either. Why doesn't anybody else see it?
My sister saw this film and understood it perfectly. But men look at it and all they say is "where's the gore and special effects."
Aghhhh... ::throws up her hands::
At any rate, anyone who enjoys a really taut thriller with a deeper meaning to it should watch this. But be forewarned, it is rather disturbing. And it should be, because rape is not something to be taken lightly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars deep but disturbing March 19 2004
I am a little torn on how to judge Dario Argento's "The Stendhal Syndrome". The movie is about a Rome police inspector Anna Manni (director Dario's daughter, Asia Argento; who seems a bit young to play a police detective), who is assigned to the anit-rape unit. Manni's current case is to track down a serial rapist and killer who is stalking girls in Rome and Florence. The killer finds her in an art museum. While she is there, she falls victom to the stendhal syndrome (that is, having a physical reaction to a powerful emotional piece of art) which catches the attention of the killer. Shortlyu there after, Anna is captured and savagly raped and beaten by the killer. The attack leaves her seriously damaged mentally and emotionally. She now must hurt and mutalate herself just to feel. While on vacation, Anna is captured and tortured again by the killer, but this time mangaes to escape and kill the man. But this only leads to deeper despair. "Stendhal" has it's good points and it has it's bad points. Well, first the good. This is a powerfully disturbed movie; unflinching and brutal. I must praise Ms. Argento for having the guts to play such a demanding role; what she lacks in talent (and she dose lack), she makes up for in courage and effort to play on such raw emotions. She has made a career out of playing victoms who, after they are damaged in whatever way, can only respond to new world with equal amount of venom. The violence is very disturbing, not so much the amount of gore (although there is plenty of that), but because it is so mean spirited. However, if you're a Dario Argento fan, you're probably, um, if not used to it, at least you're expecting it. Now onto the bad. Structurely, the movie seems disjointed. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars Seriously good psychological thriller Jan. 12 2004
The Stendhal Syndrome was the second movie I saw by Dario Argento. Since then I've become a huge fan of his work. Many people find this multi-layered thriller to be one of his failures and I find that hard to believe. Granted, it's more character driven than most of his movies tend to be and the movie's pace and athmosphere change dramatically in the second half. Still, I found out that it's got a lot of his trademarks (having now viewed all his movies except Four flies on grey velvet, which I can't find anywhere). It's stylish as hell, with great use of artworks (as metaphors that is; the scene where Asia covers herself in paint had me wondering), the music score is excellent (by Ennio Morricone; not Goblin) and the violence is at times extreme (the rape scenes particularly, since you know Asia's father is directing them).
The real difference with this film considering Dario's other films is the psychological undertone. I have watched this movie now three times and I'm always seeing something I didn't figure out the last time. That's what great complex thrillers do, they always keep you wondering. This is without a doubt Dario Argento's most complex film, it demands the audience pay attention to what's happening. As far as psychological thrillers go, this one ranks high.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Stylish but Incoherent July 28 2003
I am slightly embarrassed to admit that this is my first Dario Argento film. For anyone even remotely interested in horror movies, this admission is not an easy one. I don't really know why I waited so long to watch an Argento film; perhaps it is merely an oversight on my part. It certainly has nothing to do with an aversion to Italian horror cinema; I have seen several films by such notables as Lucio Fulci, Ruggero Deodato, and Umberto Lenzi but never anything from Dario. Argento's body of work is voluminous: he's been making films for over thirty years, with his best work appearing in the 1970s and early 1980s. I'll eventually watch "Suspiria," "Inferno," and "Deep Red," but for my first Argento film I decided to view "The Stendhal Syndrome," mainly because the plot sounded immensely intriguing even for a horror film. The additional factor of Asia Argento in the starring role of Anna Manni definitely didn't hurt, either. Asia is Dario's daughter, an actress whose star is rising with recent appearances in American big budget films.
"The Stendhal Syndrome," set in Italy, tells the story of police detective Anna Manni. Anna's latest case involves a serial rapist who with his last two victims added murder to his resume. Regrettably for Anna, this criminal has now set his sights on her. His first move against Manni entails luring her to a museum where she falls victim to an odd psychological malady called the Stendhal Syndrome. Named for the famous French writer Stendhal, this mental affliction causes the sufferer to undergo nausea, headaches, depression, and severe hallucinations when confronted with works of art.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Argento.Much overlooked! But Troma's version is better.
Blue Underground has done another great job with this highly underrated Argento movie. But let's not forget it was because of Troma that the film got any theatrical and initial... Read more
Published on Nov. 24 2007 by Ton
2.0 out of 5 stars Horrible DVD Quality, Interesting Movie
Troma should feel ashamed by the horrible quality of this DVD. Argento's films are usually released on Anchor Bay, who does a stellar job with the transfers. Read more
Published on April 2 2004 by A. C. Johnson
2.0 out of 5 stars Terrible DVD of an impressive film
The Stendhal Syndrome is an effective, stylish thriller from horror maestro Dario Argento. The film alone would rate at least 4 (out of 5 stars)but the Troma DVD is pretty... Read more
Published on Nov. 22 2003 by The Magician
4.0 out of 5 stars The Argento syndrome
Careful: this movie is not an easy one to watch. It's crude, violent, disturbing, sick, perverted, vicious. And yet fascinating, elegant, smart, exciting. Read more
Published on May 13 2003 by Wildenbruck
3.0 out of 5 stars Dark, Disturbing Argento Thriller
"The Stendhal Syndrome" is Dario Argento's hardest movie to watch. The entire movie runs darker and deeper than his better work and leaves the viewers feeling a little, well... Read more
Published on Feb. 16 2003 by Keith W. Johnson
4.0 out of 5 stars Stripped down but different Argento still good
Assistant Inspector Anna Manni is sent from Rome to Florence on an assignment to capture a serial rapist who has raped 15 women and killed the last two. Read more
Published on Feb. 8 2003 by Daniel J. Hamlow
4.0 out of 5 stars intoxicating horror,talking pantings, asia goes crazy
this will make you wonder about killers souls,can they enter peoples bodys after they die, why do normal people suddenly go crazy, a killing spree ...!!! this movie goes there.
Published on July 10 2002 by Robert L. Christlieb
2.0 out of 5 stars Slow and pointless
Great idea--strange reactions to art--is tossed aside and scene after scene is set up yet goes nowhere. (Why does she return home? Why does she have to be a cop? Read more
Published on June 28 2002 by Derek Jager
4.0 out of 5 stars Vastly underrated
It still astonishes me how often this film seems to get slated. From the first time I saw it, I have always rated it among Argento's best. Read more
Published on March 7 2002 by David Heney
Despite an incredible opening 20 minutes, THE STENDHAL SYNDROME
soon meanders into tedium and never manages to recover. Read more
Published on Feb. 15 2002 by Mark W. T. A.
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