Opera

Opera ★★★½

Anyone who's never seen a Dario Argento film should be tied down with needles taped under their eyes in order to appreciate the violent visual tapestry that can only really be experienced in one of his films. "Opera", which Argento wrote, directed and produced, is one of the last truly great expressions of his talent. The film takes the director back to his giallo roots as a bloodthirsty black-gloved killer stalks and makes mincemeat of his prey but the twist this time around is that he makes his helpless victim watch before plunging the knife in. That way not only we in the audience are complicit but the film's main character is complicit as well. Cristina Marsillach plays an understudy suddenly thrust into the spotlight in an elaborate production Verdi's Macbeth. Shortly after her big debut though, she finds herself victimized by a ruthless killer who seems to relish making her watch as he kills the various characters in her life. He forces her by tying her up and sticking needless under her eyes preventing her from closing her eyelids. As with all giallo films, there are countless red herrings introduced before the killer's identity (and motivation) are finally revealed but not before several characters are knocked off in increasingly elaborate and gruesome ways,

If there's one thing I've learned with giallo films, it's that they function under their own set of rules and you're either going to be on board with those rules or you're not. If you apply any sort of logic towards any of them they inevitably fall apart and Opera is certainly no exception. In fact, if you think about it for more than a second the film's plot totally unravels, however if you view the film in the context of an opera and apply that sort of internal logic to it then it makes perfect sense. The other thing I learned watching giallo films is that plot and character are not only secondary, they flat out don't matter. What really matters is the camera work, the art direction, the cinematography, in other words the style and Opera is dripping with it. Argento was clearly not a director who was interested in leaving the camera in a corner to record two people talking in a room. No, his camera is always in motion, tracking movements, shifting POVs and capturing the visceral excitement in all its bloody glory. If it weren't for the sheer power and intensity of the music, I'd go as far as to say that the film would be just as powerful if you were to watch it on mute because it really doesn't matter what any of the characters have to say. They're all poorly dubbed anyway. If you can get passed that though and the film's needless multiple endings, you're in for a wild and intense ride with seriously bravura filmmaking. The act of murder has never looked more artful and yes operatic than through Dario Argento's lens.

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