Suspiria ★★★★★

“Love and manipulation share houses often.”

Luca Guadagnino took on the challenge of the decade. Suspiria is a name that carries a lot of weight behind it. Anyone familiar with the original could be nothing but apprehensive when the news first broke that Guadagnino would be remaking Dario Argento’s 1977 classic. How could a film so dynamic and beautiful be remade, and who would dare to take the chance?

I have had my reservations about Guadagnino, especially since his unfiltered criticisms of modern film and the use of digital filmmaking late last year. Through gritted teeth I can say, only a filmmaker with that absurd level of pretention could have attempted a project as beautiful as this… Anyone else surely would not have had the confidence or coyness in Guadagnino’s case.

I have had many exhilarating film-viewing experiences at the theater. Blade Runner 2049 is at the top of that list. 2049 overwhelmed me with emotion, with melancholy, with pain. Suspiria took my breath away. The final act has been ingrained in my brain since I first viewed it and I am sure it will stay far longer. This film tackles femininity in the most nuanced way. So often have I seen women exploited and laid bare in film, solely for the eyes of men. As objects of desire, and prizes to be won. In ways, I have unknowingly become desensitized to it. Suspiria rejects the objectification of women, and embraces them as the mother of everything. The mother of darkness, the mother of tears and the mother of sighs. Death to any other mother.

Suspiria examines the manipulation of women but not for the desire of men… For the approval of other women. Madame Blanc and Susie have a complicated relationship that is breathtaking on screen. The chemistry between Tilda Swinton and Dakota Johnson is tied with Olivia Cooke and Ana Taylor Joy’s for my favorite of the year. These two women mirror two sides of the same coin. Blanc, a WWII survivor who has seen hell and back right in the center of Berlin. Susie, an Amish girl from Ohio who isn’t even aware of the social detriments the war has caused. The pair of women embark on a subtle whirlwind of manipulation, dedication and love. It gently touches on motherly abuse and the mark it can leave on a young woman, leaving a part of her longing for someone to look up to and admire. Blanc is that for Susie. The coven of witches takes advantage of that weakness in Susie, showering her with affection she lacked, molding her into the woman they need her to be but if this film does anything it casts a warning to those who manipulate. Be careful of whose fire you ignite, for it may have implications of its own.

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