Suspiria ½

I should be honest and say that I did not have high expectations for this. I think that Luca Guadanino is a truly terrible director. I was not a fan of his last film, and I did not care much for the original suspiria as it was. It really seemed like there could not have been a film more tailor made for me to dislike, and I am still dumbfounded by how plain awful this movie is.

From the very beginning it seems that this film was haphazardously slapped together. Over edited, unfocused, and hazy. The lack of economy shown is jaw dropping. I have never been so distracted and dismayed by editing choices like this since the first Avengers film. Pointless jumping about a frame, moving us through spaces and times in an utterly baffling manner. Only to introduce us to the first, and worst, of Tilda Swinton's characters.

The german octogenarian with a rubbery face, the voice of boy going through puberty, and you will see by the end, the legs of a middle-aged woman. The makeup department gave him a penis, but didn't think his shapely legs would be strange? An extra mile too far I suppose.

From that unclear scene, we jump to the introduction of the Lead Character Suzie. If you could call her that, the film can barely bring itself to properly focus on or flesh anyone or any situation out. She is a fitting lead for the film. Dakota Johnson is a fine enough actress but I find her wildly uncompelling and uncharismatic. Every bit as wooden as Armie Hammer in CMBYN with far less to do than that character. She is so drab and uninspired here that we are left grasping for anyone to care about in this film. For a few minutes near the end we will finally find that in Mia Goth, before she is quickly dispatched.

The biggest problem with this film is its unfocused nature. The story of the first Suspiria takes a backseat to the visuals, a sumptuous feast of dazzling technicolor, and a mind boggling score. Guadanino has taken the part of Suspira no one cares about, the plot, and done his best to expand upon it with unnecessary complication. He also took the parts people love about the original, and flattened them out entirely. The score by Thom Yorke is flacid, and counteractive to the tone of the film. His gentle crooning over the films "chaotic" climax has too be one of the most laugh-out-loud hilarious, head-scatchingly hairbrained choice any director has made for a film all year.

The visuals are as muddled as the story. The Original is awash in bright red, and ever dazzling lights and textures. Luca's film is dismayingly muted, and his visual style displays one of the ugliest senses of mise-en-scene I have ever witnessed. How can you hire the cinematographer from Uncle Boonmee, and yet have made such a deeply ugly film?

Every choice made here is the wrong one. By making Suspiria his own, Guadanino has taken the parts no one cared about, and made them worse, and taken the parts that made it beloved, and removed them entirely. I cannot see how anyone at any point thought this film was a good idea, on paper or otherwise. Perhaps viewing a rough cut, and making drastic changes could have salvaged this truly bad film and made it merely an interesting failure, however I suspect that the version we have is indeed that roughest of cuts. A better edit would mean excising the Old man subplot all together (a character who serves shockingly little purpose, and is giving a shocking amount of time) and the whole divided Berlin section, which only serves to force in a poorly thought out "political" nature to the film that it makes no effective statement on at all.

Considering the construction, or lack thereof, not much could save this film, and yet I still have not touched on the script and the acting. I would say Guadanino butchered the script, but the script is already so bad I don't know how it might have been saved. It feels as though there is not a single conversation in this film. Characters spout off meaningless, meandering lines that more often than not seem to barely have anything to do with the other. As though everyone is delivering a monologue at the same time as another, they just happen to be making eyecontact. Tilda Swinton is a good actress, and one I admire, but her indulgence here is almost criminal, there is no need for her to play 3 characters, it has no effect, it merely serves to distract. Johnson is given precious little to do, and she brings no life to the already fatally boring Suzie, when her time to shine comes during the twist in the climax, it falls entirely flat. Somehow her revelation is both predictable, and remarkably meaningless.

I cannot understand what people see in this film. I was not a fan of CMBYN, but I can see some virtues in it, but Suspiria is such a shocking failure. Devoid of tension, the narrative never seems to go anywhere meaningfully, things do not add up, they merely move forward arbitrarily. Entire characters and scenes are focused on with no effect. Nothing about this is likable, provacative, or interesting. Its such a malformed, misguided experience that I'm not even sure I can call it a film.

Guadanino is no master. His desperation to be seen as an autuer leaks through all the cracks in this film. Behind this blob of a film is an artist whose only tricks are to drastically under play, or grossly over play. His desperate attempts at stylishness render the film a blithering, incohesive mess. I have never seen something so unsound and artistically empty.

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