• Giallo

    Released by: Maya Entertainment
    Released on: November 2, 2010.
    Director: Dario Argento
    Cast: Adrian Brody, Emmanuelle Seigner, Elsa Pataky
    Year: 2009
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    The Movie:

    Giallo was damned from the start. The film was originally set to star Vincent Gallo, but Gallo dropped out after Asia Argento, his former fiancé, was cast as the female lead. Ray Liotta was cast in Gallo’s place, only to be replaced later by Adrian Brody, but then Asia got pregnant and dropped out, only to be replaced by Emmanuelle Seigner. Since then, Adrian Brody has sued the film’s producers claiming that he wasn’t paid (and according to the news this week, he won), and director Dario Argento has more or less disowned the film.

    When the film begins, a model named Celine (Elsa Pataky) leaves her fashion show for the night and gets into a cab to go meet her older sister, Linda (Emmanuelle Seigner). Unfortunately for Celine, she chooses the wrong cab and before you know it she’s bound and being held hostage in an underground torture dungeon of sorts by a guy with a yellowish complexion, a greasy Jerry-curl mullet, and a Cookie Monster speaking voice. It seems he makes a habit of this, if his surroundings are anything to go by. He’s also got a tendency to take pictures of his victims and masturbate furiously while looking at them on his laptop. He’s real peach.

    Linda, obviously and understandably concerned when her sister doesn’t show up, goes to the local police who are more or less uninterested in the case until she mentions that the last time she heard from her was on her cell phone from the cab. Cab being the magic word, she makes the acquaintance of an F.B.I. agent named Enzo Avolfi (Adrian Brody), a man so rude that Linda has to ask him if it’s his Italian heritage or his New York City roots that makes him such a dick. He gets the information he wants from her and tries to send her on her way but she’s having none of that and before you know it, Linda and Enzo are zipping around Rome trying to figure out who the killer is and where he’s stashed poor Celine before it’s too late.

    Okay, despite the title of the film, those expecting a throw back to Argento’s glory days are going to be disappointed. It’s probably safe to say, at this point in the game, that he’s not going to go back to the style of filmmaking that earned him the legions of fans he employed in the seventies and eighties. There’s an amusing nod to Suspiria early on in the cab scene but that’s about as ‘retro’ as this picture gets, and on top of that, it doesn’t really fall too easily into the actual trappings of what most of us would consider a giallo. It’s more of a police procedural than anything else, as we know by the half way point exactly who the killer is and even why he’s off his rocker. On top of that, we’re also told exactly why Brody’s inspector is so intent on catching him. The film moves at a good pace and doesn’t overstay its welcome but it’s almost entirely devoid of suspense. A couple of gory set pieces stand out but they’re not shot with any splash or style and feel more like something out of Saw or Hostel than Tenebre or Deep Red.

    The biggest problem with the film, however, is the killer himself. Played very obviously by one ‘Byron Deidra’ (you figure it out – it’s not hard), our antagonist isn’t in the least bit frightening, in fact, he’s more than a little laughable. It had to have been intentional, making him look like the guy who got kicked out of an Iron Maiden concert circa 1986, but he’s so awkward and goofy that we can’t realistically believe that he’s able to outwit the cops for so long when he sticks out like a sore thumb in the first place.

    Ultimately, Giallo is entertaining enough but it’s pretty much completely uninspired. There’s nothing wrong with Argento wanting to try new things and avoid repeating himself and you can’t blame him for what was attempted here but the script just isn’t very good, the acting rarely any better (Brody tends to overdo it in scenes and Seigner is just awkward here) but a few interesting scenes and a well played, if slightly predictable, final twist keep it from sitting at the bottom of Argento’s barrel – but just barely.


    The 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is acceptable, but not remarkable. The color scheme used for this film is fairly bland looking, and those expecting the abundance of primary hues that makes Argento’s more inspired work so interesting to look at might be disappointed by the overuse of earth tones here. Detail is okay though there’s actually a bit of minor print damage here and there, which is surprising considering how new the picture is. Skin tones look alright, though the black levels are sometimes a little on the murky side. Not a great transfer, but not a horrible one either.

    Audio options are offered up in English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo. There are no alternate language options or subtitles provided. For the most part, the 5.1 tracks sounds pretty good though you might need to reach for the remote during some of the more graphic scenes as the screaming can get considerably louder than the rest of the mix, and on the flip side of that coin, there are spots where the dialogue is a little low, meaning you’ll want to turn it up. Aside from the level issues, the track is clean and clear and free of any hiss or distortion.

    There are previews for a few other Maya releases that play before you get to the main menu, but that’s it as far as extras go, unless you count chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    While not as irredeemably awful as some have made it out to be, this isn’t a particularly good movie. It’ll hold your interest and has some interesting ideas but they’re never fleshed out enough to work and the film doesn’t make up for it with its bland style and uninspired soundtrack. Argento completists will want it regardless and Maya’s barebones disc looks and sounds okay, but honestly, this is nothing to write home about.
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Paul L's Avatar
      Paul L -
      I enjoyed some of this but found the pivotal makeup laughable: it reminded me too much of this (UK viewers will understand):