Thursday, 22 November 2007
Scarlet Diva (2000)
Anna Battista, the heroine of Scarlet Diva, is a rich, successful, critically acclaimed actress who is, at the ripe old age of 24, bored and disillusioned with acting and with her life of excess. She wants to be a director. She is working on a screenplay about a rich, successful, critically acclaimed actress who is bored and disillusioned with acting and with her life of excess. Anna Battista is played by Asia Argento. At the time the movie was made Asia Argento just happened to be a rich, successful, critically acclaimed 24-year-old actress directing her first feature film, called Scarlet Diva. Given all that, you’d expect this movie to be wildly self-indulgent, insanely self-reflexive and highly autobiographical, and you’d be right on the money. The most surprising thing about Scarlet Diva is that she gets away with it. The main reason she gets away with it is that it’s a wonderfully stylish and visually impressive movie. She’s not Dario Argento’s daughter for nothing. She might not have a great deal to say in this movie, other than telling us about the extraordinary capacity for self-destruction possessed by rich celebrities (something that isn’t exactly going to come as a great shock to most of us) but she tells her story economically and with flair and as director she is always in complete control. The movie’s other saving grace is an unexpected sense of humour. Argento’s acting is as excessive as everything else in the film, but it’s undeniably effective and powerful. As both star and director Argento is not afraid to go over-the-top and to take risks, and there’s a certain brutal honesty to the movie, and to her portrayal of a character clearly based to a very large extent on herself. There are more than enough pluses to balance out the self-indulgence, and the result is an impressive feature film debut.