Sunday, March 27, 2011

Profondo Rosso [aka Deep Red]

Well, after the (comparatively) low point of
Four Flies..., the week got right back on track with the superb Argento masterpiece that is Profondo Rosso. This is a film very much in the Bird with the Crystal Plumage vein; it's giallo murder mystery through and through. On top of that, it's done extremely well.

Here, more than anywhere, I'll have to tread very carefully in not giving away spoilers. Deep Red, you see, has a more carefully constructed plot than most Argento films and, as well as not knowing to the very end who's responsible, we actually care! It's a film that is more perfectly balanced than his other movies. Phenomena, for all that it was a great watch, has a very long period of almost-nothing-happening through the middle (although the awesomeness of the end makes this easy to forgive!), but Profondo Rosso is a much more polished piece. Information is given away little by little, red herrings and genuine clues are tumbled together into a mix that is never less than enthralling (Enthralling seems a little too fancy a word, but I'm aware that I've called nearly every Argento film this week 'compelling'...). And never fear, the end certainly lives up to the standard set by the rest of the film!

On top of a much more involving plot, the film retains all the other Argento staples, all feeding into the near perfect mix. The Goblin theme tune is piercing synth-perfection, creeping gently into a previously silent scene as the camera bobs and weaves. Like all the best Argento moments, the atmosphere here is tense and threatening. You only need to hear the bass-line fading in as the camera slides slowly across the scene and your heartbeat rises.

This is, as I have said repeatedly already this week, an experience more than a narrative (even if the narrative is stronger here!). Argento films play to the senses, appeal to the nerves, excite your pulse and quicken your breath. To an extent, these work best if you can disengage your brain slightly: we tend to watch films with a keen critical eye, removing ourselves emotionally in order to pass sterile judgements on acting quality, narrative etc. Forget that. Don't analyse an Argento film, watch an Argento film. The hardest part of writing about these films is remembering the finer details of the films; I know I had a thoroughly enjoyable two hours, that I was shocked at times, tense at times, laughing at times (Gianna's knackered car provides welcome comic release).

Profondo Rosso is an excellent film, a fantastic journey and a great starting place for anyone who hasn't seen an Argento film. It's perhaps not my favourite - I lean toward the psychological horror rather than the murder mystery - but it's a great film to watch.

Excellent theme tune:

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