Frank Ritz’s review published on Letterboxd:
I’ve tried multiple times to write a review, and the poetic words this film deserves simply won't come out. I need to see this again, I think, before the floodgates will open (I wanted badly to just walk into another showing when mine ended, but alas, time would not permit). But what I can concretely say for now, is that it’s been almost a week since I saw this and it hasn’t left my mind for a moment. Luca Guadagnino flexes his directorial prowess, guiding the audience along an all encompassing story of politics, the facade that comes with it, the dynamics of power, and most importantly, the liberation of women. A movie so seeped into the culture of 70s Berlin, against a revolutionary backdrop against Fascism, is somehow still so pointedly relevant to today, and utilizing the “horror” genre (though this is certainly more suspenseful than anything), to try and quantify the fear, is nothing except brilliant.
This is an arm and a leg better than the original in my opinion, but they also are trying to be extremely different things. The original Suspiria definitely resides more in entertaining campiness, but this update is so socially conscious and biting in its rhetoric, it gave me those Kubrickian chills my body actively seeks. Luca guides the story along with assured control, giving what we assume is a plethora of information, only to learn the true story resides in the subtext, and nothing is clear until after the finale. This is the kind of shit I live for; I love movies that can be surfacely enjoyed on a moment-to-moment basis, but then if you try and peel aware the layers, you’re rewarded even further, as well as being re-watchable. Luca really steps up his game here, as well. I’ve only seen Call Me By Your Name, but in hearing multiple interviews with him, and reading reviews of his other films, he functioned as an observer. A fly on the wall, letting his camera capture moments happening among characters. Sensualizing the environment and moods of the people in a moment. With Suspiria, Luca shifts his directorial gears, and amps it up to an 11, because he is guiding the ship without question, every step of the way. It’s really a beautiful sight to see, because it feels like so much progression has developed in just one film.
I know upon a re-watch, so many more clues, and setup will be more clear, because this is a thoroughly thought through picture. The screenplay is impeccable, and had the visual gusto to back it up. Tension lingers throughout every frame, and drama builds, until a fully realized world is being balanced between the coven of powerful witches, our doe-eyed yet strong willed protagonist, and the outsider doctor, who are all functioning on the three separate levels of the relationship between those who govern and those who are governed. It feels like this took a lot of time and care to craft, being that it still homages the original in subtle and brilliant ways (unlike the new Halloween), while completely grounding a sense of reality in the literal story, and making sure it retains relevance to today. It’s disbursement of information is also startling, in how much it trusts it’s audience in going along with it. The witches aren’t a spoiler anymore, they are integral to the machine, therefore, where the mysteries lies, is hidden in plain sight, yet not acknowledged until the film is already near its end. Creating a whole new way of looking at everything that came before.
There are genuine moments of pure horror that will never leave my brain. It wasn’t a pleasant experience sometimes. But that’s the best thing you could want in a horror film. The utilization of practical effects, and JESUS the blood, was so inspiring, I could feel the giddy energy that just had to be on set those days. Very impressive stuff.
Tilda Swinton is a god. Just wanted to get that out of the way, cause, uh, wow. Not only does she nail Madame Blanc, and (spoiler), but also just completely throws herself in 100% into playing Lutz Ebersdorf playing Dr. Jozef Klemperer. Front runner for Supporting Actress, and I can’t imagine somebody giving a larger commitment this year. The levels of variance between the performances as well is astonishing. Also, news flash to, uh, me, Dakota Johnson can fucking act. She carries this movie when Tilda isn’t on the screen, and she is fierce and magnetic, while carrying a false fragility, that it’s hard not to be carried along with her performance, much like Luca’s direction. I think even on the second viewing, her intentionalness in choices will be even more clear. Everyone else is great in their respective roles (especially all the witches, each one nailed their function to perfection), but the stars are without question Tilda and Dakota, and I am colored impressed.
This is the movie 2018 needs. I think if there’s one take away from the film, it’s that we are living in a time of change. Change that could be for the better, or could be for the worse. It’s easy to fall into sides, or into being an unwilling bystander, and yet, it’s just as bad as being a proponent of hatred. Love that this feels more about female empowerment than most films I've seen as of late. And with that being said...
Go vote today. That’s all I can say. I know the political system is fucked and corrupt to no end (I mean, Hillary literally won the popular vote, and yet she isn’t President(please don’t start defending the electoral college, because I can’t deal right now)), but it is the only means that we as citizens have to TRY and implement change. By getting those who actually care about us into power, instead of those seeking money, fame, glory, etc. All we can do is persevere and keep trying, until the inevitable revolution comes, and then it’ll be a testament to what side your on. But I digress.
Don’t be ignorant. Go vote.