THE STENDHAL SYNDROME (1996)


A psychological horror film by the greatest of the giallo directors, Dario Argento. The plot revolves around a woman police detective who is after a vicious rapist, but who suffers from the titled malady: a penchant for becoming so overwhelmed by artwork, that she faints and/or hallucinates. It has all the usual problems of a giallo film; the plot often makes no sense and more often is just plain silly. But it also has all the virtues of an Argento film: it’s visually stunning and so emotionally evocative one can’t stop watching it. It’s more than a little creepy and often unpleasant and not just in subject matter. The lead actress, Asia Argento, who is viciously raped and beaten in realistic, drawn out detail, is also the daughter of the director (not sure I want to be at their house for Thanksgiving). The psychopathic villain is played by Thomas Kretschmann, who has the looks of a Nordic god, and the haunting score is by Ennio Morricone. One of Argento’s best.

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