This is the longest movie I’ve ever watched.
But at one hour and 46 minutes, that’s not a good thing.
To feel like it’s taking forever.
Which is not to say this is a bad film.
It’s a very good film.
With a very disturbing ending.
Yes, I’m warning you.
Don’t (like me) get sucked in by all the cuteness and expect our still-mediocre filmmaker to give you a good ending.
But maybe I’m wrong…
First, Asia Argento is a very talented filmmaker.
But she’s still mediocre.
There are two main problems with this film.
The editing (as in cut some of this superfluous shit out) and the ending.
My guess is that Argento could not bear to see any of her precious footage cut (to any significant degree).
So I am not complaining about the découpage (editor Filippo Barbieri does a fantastic job…especially in the palimpsest intro), but rather the montage (in the French sense).
The ending is a cheap stunt.
David Bowie predicted such excess on Ziggy Stardust…
I will leave it at that.
But suffice it to say that Asia Argento put her heart and soul into this film.
And much of it (most of it) is magical.
This was in spite of Charlotte Gainsbourg’s overwrought, tacky performance.
Charlotte is a wonderful musician.
One of the best alive.
I adore her music.
But she is a terrible actress.
Even so, Argento should have reined in Gainsbourg’s diva performance considerably.
Yet nothing can take away from the true magic contained in Misunderstood (this film’s title on Netflix).
Maybe it’s not Gainsbourg’s fault.
Maybe the role called for a soulless bitch.
But we’ve seen Charlotte in other dire films (like Melancholia).
For all of Asia Argento’s imperfections as a filmmaker (and there are a few), she is like Orson Welles compared to the utter shite that Lars von Trier churns out.
Not to mince words, but “von” Trier has to be one of the worst filmmakers working today.
And so let’s get to why Argento marginally succeeds with this film.
The answer is so very simple: Giulia Salerno.
Salerno must have been about 13 (or younger) when this film was shot [though she is ostensibly nine years old…in the context of the story].
Her acting, really, is a revelation.
The entire movie revolves around her.
She and her cat Dac.
It’s a sad story.
But Aria [Salerno] makes everything joyful.
Ah, the resilience of kids!
I was blessed with wonderful parents growing up.
Aria’s parents in this film are reprehensible in just about every way imaginable.
There is something of a Les Quatre Cents Coups to this tale.
Aria wanders back and forth.
With her little pet carrier (for the cat).
She has no stability.
Indeed, she ultimately has very little love at all.
I don’t want to spoil the story for you.
But here are the takeaways.
Asia Argento has the talent to become a world-class filmmaker.
This was an admirable and artful first effort.
It is a very special film.
Now it’s time for her to stop surrounding herself with ass kissers.
She’s not an auteur yet.
[I don’t care who her father was!]
Giulia Salerno has the brigtest future imaginable as an actress.
She is now about 15 years old.
And she’s already put a performance like this under her belt.
I hope that Hollywood and the cinema of her home country Italy take notice of her incredible thespian gift.
And I will give Argento one more compliment: she sure shocked the shit out of me with that ending.
And though it was trite and tasteless, it didn’t completely ruin what was a very fine film.
Indeed, the editor needed for the bulk of this film would have lopped it off forthwith (if they were at all worth their salt).