: : : The Stendhal Syndrome

Story

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

Cast

Asia ArgentoDet. Anna Manni
Thomas KretschmannAlfredo Grossi
Marco LeonardiMarco Longhi
Luigi DibertiInsp. Manetti
Paolo BonacelliDr. Cavanna
Julien LambroschiniMarie
John QuentinAnna's father
Franco DiogeneVictim's husband
Lucia StaraShop assistant
Sonia TopazioVictim in Florence
Lorenzo CrespiGiulio
Vera GemmaPolicewoman
John PedeferriHydraulic engineer
Veronica LazarMarie's mother
Mario DianoCoroner
Eleonora VizziniAnna, as a child
Maximilian NisiLuigi
Leonardo FerrantiniAlessandro
Sandro GiordanoFausto
Cinzia MonrealeAlfredo's Grossi's wife
Michele KaplanAlfredo Grossi's son
Laura Piattella40-year-old woman
Vincenzo Uccellini40-year-old woman's son
Elena Bermani30-year-old woman
Antonio MarziantonioMuseum watchman
Luca CamillettiHotel porter

  • Genre: Horror Movies
  • Director: Dario Argento
  • Producer: Troma
  • Length: 120 min
  • Aspect ratio: 1.66:1
  • Theatrical Release
    North AmericaJan 1, 1996
    EuropeFebruary 1997
    JapanJun 15, 1996
  • Ratings
    Europe18
  • Blu-ray Release
    North AmericaNov 18, 2008
  • DVD Release
    North AmericaJun 27, 2000
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