November 26, 2018  (Web Review)

Scarlet Diva

Film Movement, 91 min., in English, French & Italian w/English subtitles, not rated, DVD: $29.99, Blu-ray: $39.99

Reviewer rating: 2.5/4

Actress and Italian sex symbol Asia Argento made her directorial debut in this 2000 semi-autobiographical drama about a sex symbol actress who, for all her success, feels degraded by the industry and wants to redeem herself by directing an autobiographical script. Anna Battista (Argento) gets naked (frequently), looks for affection in casual sex, has flashbacks of her life before fame, and suffers from nightmares about alienation. When she becomes pregnant by a self-involved rock star, Anna complains ā€œIā€™m the loneliest girl in the world,ā€ while inhaling cocaine, smoking dope, and drinking to excess to calm her fears about motherhood. Argento directs with a lurid, fever dream intensity, fitting for the daughter of horror film auteur Dario Argento. Scarlet Diva was described as both brave and self-indulgent upon its release, although the film takes on more resonance since Argento became one of the first actresses to call out Miramax president Harvey Weinstein for sexual assault (she, herself, has been since accused of sexual assault by a male actor). One can easily see the near-rape that Anna escapes here at the hands of an American producer as an emotionally naked piece of autobiographical confession. The narrative is often confused and unfocussed and there is certainly a bit of narcissism in this self-portrait, but it is also a passionate and ambitious portrait of an angry, damaged woman who is using cinema as self-expression therapy. Extras include two commentary tracks from Argento (one from 2002, the other from 2018), behind-the-scenes featurettes, an interview with Argento, and an essay by film critic Kier-La Janisse. A strong optional purchase. (S. Axmaker)