Friday, 30 November 2018

Review: Suspiria (2018)

Cert: 18 / 153 mins / Dir. Luca Guadagnino / Trailer

Let's be honest, if you're having a production meeting and one of the outcomes is that Thom Yorke should do the music for your film, there's a good chance that you're making something which is going to test my fucking patience. Suspiria is impeccably made, but I'd be lying if I said there weren't long stretches during which I was thoroughly bored.

The plot: In 1977, a young American woman runs away from her religiously strict family to a dance school in Berlin, right next to the wall which divides the city.
Turns out it's run by witches. There we go.


Now to be fair, my main problem here is that I don't 'do' dance. I appreciate the coordination and precision, and I understand that there's emotion and symbolism contained within, and that's all well explained within the film itself. But it's just not a visual language I understand*1. They may as well have the characters speaking in tongues, frankly.

A point of note could also be that I haven't seen Dario Argento's 1977 original movie, but in all honest that shouldn't matter - this is a remake, not a sequel. I'm under the impression that this is a relatively faithful interpretation and expansion of that, so any issues I had with the new film are likely to stem from the original.


Another problem could be that Dakota Johnson is interesting to watch, as is Tilda Swinton, but everybody else? Really not so much. The overall grotesquery is nicely escalated, but it's like a two and a half hour episode of The League Of Gentlemen without any jokes. Any which way, Luca Guadagnino's Suspiria is too long. I expected self-indulgence, I'd just like to be more engaged while that's happening (cf. Mandy).

Don't get me wrong, I admire Suspiria a great deal. But over two and half hours, it's going to take more than chin-stroking to keep me onboard. Besides, at least I'm not the guy in front who sighed audible for the last 120 minutes of the film.

Oh, and since the film prides itself on its technical prowess, I'm just going to say it: the drop-shadow on the subtitles is too far from the source lettering, there's a gap between the two and it's distracting as fuck. Yeah, I do typography, not dance…

So, what sort of thing is it similar to?
Tonally, Under The Skin. Yeah.

Is it worth paying cinema-prices to see?
If you think it's your thing, absolutely.

Is it worth hunting out on DVD, Blu-ray or streaming, though?
I imagine it'll struggle even harder to capture your attention in the living room, unless you're already onboard and are the kind of viewer who'd normally watch it in the cinema anyway.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?

Will we disagree about this film in a pub?
Hahahaha, absolutely.

Is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There isn't.

Yeah but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 1: Prosthetics makeup designer Mark Coulier also worked on Attack Of The Clones, and since Suspiria has some truly outstanding effects, I'm counting that as a direct link.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 Nor is it a series of movements I can fully understand, ie - I don't dance. Not that I watched the film with a sense of growing envy you understand, but at no point was I thinking 'yeah, I know that move'. The dancing itself is fine, is what I'm trying to say. It's more the fact that it meant little to me in scenes which weren't directly a telekinetic voodoo sequence. [ BACK ]

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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