susPiriA (Luca Guadagnino)
finds the director of Call Me By Your Name and A Bigger Splash bringing his sumptuous aesthetic palette to a reworking of Dario Argento’s 1977 Day-Glo nightmare – and either failing to understand what makes that movie a classic, or choosing to disregard it in favour of a gorgeous but inert medita- tion on patriarchy, witchcraft and the failure of Germans to reckon with their collective guilt after the Holocaust. The set-up is the same, with American dancer Susie Bannion (Dakota Johnson) arriving at the Tanz Academy to discover the place is slithering with ancient evil – but now the nature of that evil is identified before Susie’s even in the door, with ethereal instructor Madame Blanc (Tilda Swinton, of course) vying to take over the coven that runs the place. Over two and a half very slow, very hazy hours, the resulting power struggle will ensnare Susie, her fellow students and several teachers, as well as an elderly psychotherapist (Swinton again, under heavy makeup for no discernible purpose) who’s already aware that something’s off in Berlin. Guadagnino eschews Argento’s frenzied pacing and assaultive mise en scène, but doesn’t bring anything else to replace them; the new Suspiria is a gentle drift through some unsettling ideas about gender, destiny and evil that intellectualizes them into abstractions. It’s interesting and occasionally quite striking… but it’s never as upsetting as it wants to be, or as profound. 152 min. Some subtitles. NN (Norman Wilner)
Suspiria is a vague, pointless reworking of Dario Argento’s 1977 horror classic.