It’s astounding to me that it took me this long to finally get around to Luca Guadagnino’s remake of Dario Argento’s giallo classic, but here we are. I was a bit turned off by the divided critical reaction not to mention the preposterous 152-minute running time, but boy am I glad I finally sat down to watch it because it’s damn close to being a masterpiece. It’s less of a remake to the 1977 movie than a wide expansion of it, blowing up the original’s general story to wider proportions, both culturally and historically. There are a number of fascinating scenes as the movie progresses slowly but surely on the way to an inevitably horrifying climax that ties the movie’s more obtuse elements together in a surprisingly cohesive manner. However, there are some elements that prevent the movie from becoming a truly immersive, high-art experience, beginning with some weak central performances: Dakota Johnson seems bored and disinterested in the lead role (and she’s ill-served by a cheap-looking wig), while Chloe Grace Moretz flounders as a troubled dancer, and Tilda Swinton wanders from scene to scene looking distracted. Additionally, there are forced connections to political disruption and the Holocaust that add gravitas on the one hand but also dampen the atmosphere by regularly reminding the audience of real-life atrocities that are much more serious than anything the movie has to offer. However, despite its shortcomings, this is a remarkable technical accomplishment for Guadagnino, whose imaginative expansion of the original’s bones are often effectively unsettling and extraordinarily well-directed.
Rating: ★★★★★ (out of 5)