Suspiria

Suspiria ★★★½

I can only imagine the equal parts of unrequited love and sheer hubris that it must take to want to remake someone else's movie, especially when that movie is a classic like "Susperia". But Luca Guadagnino's "Susperia" is not a remake, it is an "homage to the powerful emotion he felt when he watched the original film", and therein lies the problem.

I have always enjoyed the '77 version, but mostly as a visual art piece, not for its story or the acting, per se. Argento's masterpiece is normally revered for it's color schemes and elaborate set pieces, with it's story described as "a weak imitation of the Exorcist", but I'm not sure adding more story is the answer, either. Expanding on the themes of motherhood by giving more substance to Susie's backstory, or whiffs of parallels between the separation of the real world and the spiritual world and a divided Germany, or (no matter how much I adored it) the inclusion of Tilda Ebersdorf's 100% new character might all be interesting avenues to lead our brains down, but end up just being a spider-web of allegorical nonsense when all crammed into the same film at the same time. However, the meat added to the anemic bones of the original story of the Three Mothers gave me not only a deeper understanding of Argento's sketchy scripting, but made the new version feel like it's own stand-alone piece. The use of dance as spell concoction method was both one of the more visually impressive themes in the film, and an interesting and clever use of the real life roots witchcraft has in Pagan and Wiccan rituals.

I'm not going to be the one to deny Tilda her Peter Sellers (or Eddie Murphy, for some) moment, especially when she handles it so deftly. Her Madame Blanc moves like a tobacco cloaked panther, silently and successfully containing the raw power that on one hand is the reason why others are drawn to her, but on the other could destroy the whole world if it only knew to be worried. Conversely, Dr. Klemperer is a man who's strength comes from the complete denial of his weaknesses, like a cartoon coyote that hasn't fallen to his doom because he hasn't noticed that he's run out of cliff, yet. She plays them both with such ease, such comfort in each of their skin, that it truly makes you wonder if she is an androgynous alien sent here only to show mankind what acting looks like from worlds of higher intelligence. If Tilda starred in a movie where she wallowed in pig shit for 90 minutes, her performance would get the pig shit nominated for best supporting actor. I love her, is what I'm trying to say.

This movie will never overtake Argento's classic. People will never follow up the movie's mentioning with the phrase, "Which one?". But, it's definitely an amazing piece of film on it's own. Which is probably the highest praise one can hope for when trying to make something as intangible as an homage to an emotion.

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