Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion (1970)

One of the worst things that can happen to any film is to start out soaring high for the first half, only to crash and burn in the second, leaving the end as nothing more than a flaming pile of wreckage. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion falls into that unsavory category. The plot initially has promise, but once you get to that half-way mark and things start being uncovered, all that promise is rendered useless.

My problem isn't with the direction by Luciano Ercoli(he hasn't done much), the acting by Dagmar Lassander or any of the other cast members. It isn't with the editing or the music, which was done by the all-time great Ennio Morricone. Rather, the plot just caves in on itself. The film revolves around Minou(Lassander), the wife of some kind of deep sea diving engineer. One night while she's walking on a beach, a stranger assaults her and says that her husband is a murderer. The next day she's blackmailed by the same man, with an audio recording of her husband talking about the murder. If she wants to save him from the police, she'll have to comprimise herself mentally and physically with the unknown assailant/blackmailer. He doesn't want money, only her willful submission of body and mind. Or so he says. All he really does is fuck her once and walk around kinda creepily for a lot of the film.

I might have found a clue that foreshadows this film's inability to make good on its promises. From the back of the DVD case, "Dagmar Lassander stars as a repressed young wife whose traumatic sexual assault triggers a depraved obsession with her attacker." Sounds good, doesn't it? It has the making of a really perverse giallo, or so says the back cover. But once the movie is over, you realize she never had any remote attachment to her attacker except for her wanting him to leave her alone, which he won't do.

The spear-chucking pervert makes his first appearance. And no, she doesn't like it. Fuck you, DVD case.

I could see how in a better film, Minou could believably be attracted to the danger and violence she was given a taste of, but ultimately spared. But not in Lady Above Suspicion. If that truly was the intention, the filmmakers failed pretty miserably. But maybe it wasn't, and the DVD case is just lying right to my face. I guess I'll never know. But what really kills the cool start is when the clues start coming together to form a picture of a giant turd. For reasons I can't get into for fear of spoiling something already pretty rotten, I can't say why Minou becomes so confused. But I can say that she supposedly starts doubting her own memories because no one will believe what she tells them about her ordeal. But a problem arises in the way her character was written, because she's supposed to be a normal girl with no mental disorders. If some guy tried to assault me, only to blackmail me later into pleasuring him all night in his creepy incense-laden stinky pit of love rape, I sure as shit wouldn't agree when you told me I was dreaming it all up in my head. I'd tell you to get your head out of your ass and smell my freshly pillaged crotch, which should be all the evidence one would need to come to the correct conclusion. But she doesn't do that. Instead she cries about the guy being real and how she's not lying, she swears! Again, I'd be pissed at this point. It just seemed like her reactions were only played out to facilitate the plot instead of them coming from her personality or something that happened in her past.

Minou takes everyone's incredulous looks a bit too well. It's crotch-smelling time.

The DVD case also says there are "fiendish red herrings and mind warping twists." Um, ok, but not really. There's only one real case of a possible red herring, and then it's promptly never spoken of again.

What the fuck? Nazis with fashionable eyewear do not figure into the plot.

And the twist comes so out of left field it's ridiculous. I'd have never been able to guess how this film were to end, because it's some weird giallo deus ex machina type conclusion that just left me scratching my head. I guess my expectations were a bit too high for this film. I'd heard good things about it, and again, the synopsis sounded like it would be a sexy thriller that did some outlandish things. Nothing outlandish ever happened, though, and it ended on a more bizarre and silly note than I could ever come up with. Dagmar Lassander was fine as Minou, but she's definitely no Edwige Fenech, and she didn't really even get naked. I thought that was a staple of giallo, but oh well. I still have All the Colors of the Dark to watch, so I should be in good hands. This film really needed a pair of those.

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