Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

As a service I will attempt to briefly define ‘Gaillo’ for you only because I didn’t know what it was though I’ve been unknowingly watching Giallo genre movies since watching Dario Argento’s ‘Tennebrea’ on late night TV years ago as teenager. Giallo is Italian for the word yellow which is significant because early Giallo pulp fiction novels had yellow tinted covers. In certain films, such as those crafted by Argento and Bava in the sixties and the seventies, Giallo seems to represent violent, stylish whodunit horror thrillers with a heavy emphasis on mood music. That was a just a brief overview in case there any out there, as I was, unsure about what and where Giallo came from. This also leads us quite nicely into the legendary Dario Argento’s latest film titled appropriately enough ‘Giallo’ which really isn’t a Giallo movie at all. Not in the least. Which I assume was Argento’s point in making it.

A hot Japanese chick (Valentina Azumi) is walking home one night after partying it up a bit in this Italian city and is getting ready for her trip back home the next day. She catches a cab to get out of the rain and well… in retrospect she would’ve been better served just getting soaking wet.

Fast forward a bit to a supermodel named Celine (Elsa Pataky) who is heading over to visit her sister Linda (Emmanuelle Seigner) who is in town taking a break from her air waitress gig… I mean stewardess. After her show, Celine jumps into this same cab and doesn’t make it big sister’s apartment which sends big sister running to the cops. The cops aren’t all that interested in hearing what Linda has to say being as how Celine has only been out of contact for a few hours, but for grins and giggles they send her down to the basement to visit the cold and morose Inspector Enzo Avolfi (Adrien Brody). Inspector Avolfi is apparently on the trail of a serial killer who has a real problem with beautiful women and it looks like his latest victim is Celine the supermodel.

Inspector Avolfi would prefer that Linda would just leave him to his own devices so he can do what he does, but since that’s obviously not happening he allows her to tag along, and as it turns out he finds it’s not so bad having someone to talk to every once in a while, no matter how shrill and irritating she might be. The detective has his own demons that he struggles to deal with on a daily basis, with his one coping mechanisms being his relentless pursuit of serial killer types since he has a unique perspective on their obsessive behavior.

Regardless, the clock is ticking because this killer, a man known as ‘Yellow’ due to his jaundiced skin, is poised to discard of his current victim Celine unless the Inspector and his whiny, shrill and super annoying sidekick can find Yellow and stop him before he rids the world of one more beautiful woman. Please… Stop that bastard!

What a peculiar film this turned out to be. As we mentioned earlier there’s not a lot ‘Giallo-esque’ about this movie. There’s no mystery in who the killer is since his identity is made clear very early on. There’s no particular style to this film in color or photography considering director of photography Frederic Fasano lights this movie broadly and flatly, as if he were shooting an episode of Magnum P.I., with the most stylish thing about this movie being Adrien Brody’s rather natty wardrobe. Now I’m not going to attempt to get into the mind of Dario Argento and figure out what his overall design was for his film because I’m nowhere near qualified to do such a thing, but I can tell you whether or not I liked this movie. As it so turns I did enjoy ‘Giallo’ but not because of it’s clever story… it doesn’t have one… and it’s not its scintillating dialog… somebody forgot to put that in… neither is it the films arresting visuals as it is almost devoid of those as well. What this film does have in its favor is a director who still knows how to tell a story, no matter how uninspiring this particular story may be, and a leading man who knows how to create a character that keeps the audience transfixed to this character while he’s on the screen. While Adrien Brody’s Enzo Avolfi is far from an appealing character or a sympathetic character, he is a deeply layered character and a character you end up caring enough about to want to learn what his story is. It seems to me that the serial killer is in this movie simply because it has to be since something has to bring the character of Inspector Enzo Avolfi into the film. Everything about the serial killer from his origin to his routines to even his eventual end all follow standard cinema convention, which is something you rarely see in an Argento film, but the darkness that hangs over Avolfi is more developed and thus more interesting and Brody does a fine job in encapsulating this character.

But while recognizing that this film does follow convention as a standard serial killer hide and seek, at least it is handled by a veteran filmmaker who knows how to keep his story in motion and his audience engaged. That being said Emmanuelle Seigner is shrill to distraction in this film which may cause one to ponder that our villain might’ve grabbed the wrong sister, but if you can get past her, and this is not easy, then you might be able to settle in for decent hunt and chase serial killer movie.

There’s nothing transcendent, special or unique about ‘Giallo’, especially considering that it’s sprung from the fertile mind of Dario Argento of whom much is expected, but removing expectations from the equations you are left with a slightly above average horror /thriller with a fine understated turn from Adrien Brody.

Real Time Web