The Film (4/5)
A series of brutal murder has Inspector Bruno Moretti (Luis Emilio Rodriguez) and Detective Benito Succo (Gustavo Dalessanro) completely baffled. Their quest to stop the maniac at large leads them to the home of the Visconti family. Vittorio (Raul Gederlini), the wheelchair-bound patriarch of the Viscontis, cares for his wife Nina (Silvina Grippaldi) who’s been comatose since their daughter Francesca was kidnapped many years ago. What terrible secrets lurk in the past of this haunted and broken family?
The fact that neo-giallo films even exist warms my heart. Luciano Onetti delivers the new standard for what a giallo film made in the 21st Century should look and sound like. This film is pretentious as hell but it never blinks. Francesca deftly balances its shameless love letter to the giallo, arthouse aspirations, and sick thrills. The opening credits alone will knock you on your ass if you’re not sitting down.
The cast is rather good though sometimes I suspect they were picked for their looks over their acting skills. They have great faces and don’t get me wrong, no one stands out as being particularly bad. The post dubbing Italian dialog might be throwing me off on this one. But seriously, Gustavo Dalessanro really looks like he stepped out of a time machine that transplanted him from the early 1970s right into 2015.
The thoroughly tweaked color palette of Francesca is a treat for the eyes. While it never explicitly says what year this film is supposed to take place, I can’t help but think this takes place in a universe where it’s 1973 forever. The score almost beats out everything else that’s great about this film. The music is wildly authentic and is so damn good that I just can’t get over it.
Nothing to complain about here. Francesca looks absolutely stunning in its 2.55:1 aspect ratio. The colors have been chopped and screwed to make this digital photography resemble a washed out and damaged film print. I know some film fans don’t like this affectation but this fits the film’s retro stylings and setting perfectly. Audio sounds just fine with a great mix of the dialog and music score. Crank this badboy up!
This 3 disc set comes with both Blu-ray and DVD versions of the film and a CD of the film’s soundtrack. I can’t stress enough how great the music for this film is. I’ve already listened to it three times since my first viewing of the film! The other extras are a behind-the-scenes feature, an interview with director Luciano Onetti and co-writer Nicolás Onetti, an alternate opening sequence, and a “hidden” scene.
While Francesca does feel like a mashup of Deep Red, Tenebrae, The House with the Laughing Windows, and many other classics of the genre, it really does cut its own path. Director Onetti and crew go a long way with a small budget and a striking look for the killer that I just can’t get enough of. This is a trashy thriller with a painfully simple plot that is perfectly complimented by its nearly overwhelming dreamlike style that I look forward to watching again. I counted at least three J&B sightings, by the way.