Suspiria ★★½

Having watched Luca Guadagnino's Suspiria remake last night, I can safely say: If you haven't seen Dario Argento's 1977 original yet, please just go watch that instead!

The latter is an absolute masterpiece of fantastic filmmaking, one of my favorite films of all time, and altogether a lot of fun to watch.
The former is an (in parts) very interesting, but overall clearly failed experiment.

Guadagnino's film is more of a reinvention, or maybe re-imagining, than a remake. It has almost nothing to do with Argento's film, besides the basic plot elements. In stark contrast to Argento's expressionist fairytale, it is devoid of color, set in a drab, brown-green '70s Berlin plagued by fear and terrorism. And, for what is supposed to be some kind of horror film, it isn't particularly scary or unsettling, besides a few flashes of oddly motivated gore. Gone is the beautiful, oneiric illogic of Argento's work, replaced by a much stronger grounding in the real world.

I can't criticize all these choices per se, since they liberate Guadagnino from the weight of the original that could hardly be surpassed, were it remade more literally.
But while he keeps a decent grip on the first two thirds of his overlong 152 minute piece, he loses it in the last third, resorting to strange character developments, trying to tie together too many superfluous plot lines, bad tints & motion blurs, and overall faux-emotional pretentious dribble.
He mixes German RAF terrorism with witchcraft, motherhood, *and* the Holocaust, but in the end doesn't seem to have anything important to say, besides demonstrating how he can manipulate his audience. One of the main issues with this Suspiria remake is that it takes itself far too seriously.

It's not a terrible film, but it's not a great one either. Connaisseurs of the original should actually take a look.

This review sums it all up quite well:

"For all the new movie’s talking points, any random shot of Jessica Harper in Argento’s 'Suspiria' has more vitality, presence, and resonance than even the most dramatic ones by Guadagnino of Johnson, not because of a difference in talent between the actresses, but because Argento sees Harper. Guadagnino is so busy directing a movie about women in the abstract, witchcraft in the abstract, dance in the abstract, terrorism in the abstract, the Holocaust in the abstract, Berlin and Germany in the abstract, that he doesn’t see the people, the places, the characters that he’s filming. His camera sees nothing."

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