Suspiria ★★★★

Argento’s film is marked by female hysteria and disbelief, which is an interesting place for Guadagnino to come in. The opening scene introduces a young woman in hysterics, where a male (?) psychologist concludes that her theories are delusions, a result of trauma. Never anything supernatural! 

Guadagnino then cuts to the dance academy, where we learn — in scenes that are deliberately mundane and not at all revelatory — that the company is actually a coven of witches. The supernatural element is made casual, and Guadagnino’s film morphs into an exploration on how women receive pain and how the world around them - divided Berlin in the late 70s - perceive and expect them to perform pain. 

The psychologist’s pain is experiential, he believes. He has suffered real, tangible trauma, and it becomes simple for him to isolate that from the women he treats — all delusional! 

Moreover, Guadagnino’s Suspiria is a horror film about shared pain, with dance as the perfect front. It becomes a film about expressions of motherhood, expressed in Jungian archetypes. The horror is what these women share: the electricity in their bodies, a desire for rebirth, for power. There’s more to it — history, Fassbinder’s colors, the ramifications of Tilda’s drag, but it’s all sort of genius, surprisingly coherent for a film not driven by traditional structure. You can’t have a story about damaged witches and expect them to tell it in a way that suits your expectations!

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