Scarlet Diva (2000)
Director: Asia Argento
Anna Batista (Argento) is a movie star with ambitions to write and direct. Sadly, her world is a vacuous place where the casting couch always seems to come into play, where drugs don’t manage to ease the pain and where true love is just another lie. Sometimes you have to lose yourself...to find yourself.
Anna, or should I say Asia…is NOT a happy movie star.
Although not a pure horror movie, "Scarlet Diva" does contain some trippy, nightmarish images and more importantly, stars, and is written and directed by Asia Argento, hot-to-trot daughter of Italian Horror Maestro Dario Argento. This trashy, self-indulgent, semi-autobiographical, narcissistic, voyeuristic and gutsy film almost feels like a cathartic celluloid cry from the lady behind the camera. I like to call this flick: See Asia…
See Asia suck on WAAAAY too many cigarettes.
See Asia get doggy-banged by some big black dude.
See Asia shave and then lick her armpits.
See Asia’s messed up childhood.
See Asia get real high.
See Asia get higher and bad trip heavily.
See Asia have nightmares about abortion.
See Asia tackle various casting couch/rape scenarios.
See Asia run away from a fat naked producer wearing Cowboy boots.
See Asia get seduced by some hot blonde with big tits.
See Asia’s dead eyes.
See Asia be the loneliest girl in the whole wide world.
See Arrow beat off and then put a bullet in his head.
Now although the narrative in this “see girl freefall into the abyss” bon-bon isn’t really something to go bonkers about (or the the shoddy dialogue, for that matter), the way Miss Argento interprets her character’s various states through symbolism, religious imagery (always works for me), haunting hallucinations or music video-esque aesthetics is. This flick is bleak...plain and simple. Spanning from Rome, Naples, Paris, Amsterdam, London and Los Angeles, Miss Argento never failed to tap into the dirty and more obscure corners of each city. No doubt, Asia’s learned a few tricks from daddy dearest when it comes to eerie lighting, slick ass shots and plays with sounds and I couldn’t take my eyes or ears off the screen.
On a character level, the secondary players were fairly unlikable or too stupid for me to care about. For example, there’s a gal here (named Veronica) who is hog-tied on a bed for days and imminently beaten by her boyfriend. What does genius Veronica do after all that “loving”? She stays with the mutt, proclaiming eternal love. What’s wrong with you, honey? I can’t care for MORONS! On the upside, I found Asia’s take on the lead quite gripping. Since she drives the movie, she eclipsed the lesser peeps in this show and shined the brightest. Here's a girl who does drugs and strips naked at the drop of a dime, but at the same time, she manages to convey vulnerability, naivety and an incredible sadness. In lesser “acting” hands, “Anna” could’ve come across as just another rock 'n roll tramp being used and abused in the movie business. But talented Asia elevated the character to a higher level. I actually wanted to hold Anna, console her, take care of her and ONLY after that...get a head-job. Needless to say…I was touched.
In the end, "Scarlet Diva" is Asia Argento taking her “live fast, die young” and exhibitionist fetishes to a whole new level, while wrapping all of it in a self-important blanket. It worked for me! Non-Asia fans might get a few kicks out of it as well, but it’s really the hardcore Asia fans that will get off on it. This is the ultimate Asia Argento fix! Let’s smoke LOTS of cigarettes because existence sucks!
We get some dead bodies, some puking, some OD’s and self-inflicted pain. But where I almost lost my Cheerios was when I saw that hairy, fat and naked dude’s ass. That man’s furry buttocks beat out any slit throat in the gross-out factor. PUKE!
This is Asia Argento’s (Anna) show and she doesn’t pull any punches with a raw and naked performance. She puts it all out there courageously, skin and soul. Daria Nicolodi (Mom) does ok as the abusive mom. Vera Gemma (Veronica) is so-so, but more importantly, has got a great ass! Jean Shepherd (Kirk) acts with his hair…great acting!
T & A
Asia shows it all and gets down with a chick (thanks babe). Vera Gemma shows ass and tits. Some blonde lesbo lady shows us her big bobbly melons. The ladies get a fat hairy dude’s ass. I know...life is NOT fair.
Asia goes "all out" in the style department. Be it slick montages, nightmarish images, wild lighting, quick cuts, shaky camera, stylish scene transitions…the works. Is some of it pretentious? A tad, but it doesn’t change the fact that Miss Argento has a great eye and she applies it full force here.
Techno, blues, alternative, Italian stuff, this track is packed and is one of the film’s strongest assets.
Slap a naïve and depressed girl smack in the middle of a world of drugs, physical abuse, every kind of sex, more drugs, false illusions of love, rape, pregnancy, overdose, loneliness and dirty old men...and you get Scarlet Diva. If you’re in the mood for a raw, nihilistic in its hedonism and quite sad poem, hit this piece of tail. Just don’t expect a “mainstream” type of approach to storytelling and don’t expect to feel chipper after the deed is done either. Where’s the Bourbon? I need to kill this hard-on and drown this pain!
This film was shot on digital video.