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Scarlet Diva

In Theaters Now
Director: Asia Argento

My Fucked Up Life Starring Me

Asia Argento's directorial debut burns across the screen in a haphazard rambling tale of sex, drugs and early twenties love/hate/angst. Art mirrors life mirrors art again in the films reoccurring references to her real life and real life imagined in nightmares and flash backs. Her father's influence (giallo great Dario Argento) comes in the lighting, the pace of the film and the unapologetic nature in the way Asia attacks the plot points.

Asia stars as Anna Battista, a young Italian starlet, know as the "Scarlet Diva" to her fans. She is burnt out at 24, divorcing her husband, alone in her demanding schedule of appearances and ceremonies around the films she recently completed. In between her quest for good hash, good sex and a party, she runs into old friends left for dead by battering boyfriends, mad heroin addicted directors, sleazy film and fashion industry folk, the mysterious random lover Quelou, and a rock star espousing impossible love theories.

From the Hollywood screen test for Cleopatra that she blows purposely to piss of the attempted rapist producer to the Special K attempted drowning and subsequent bad trip by celebrity photographers in London, Anna travels the globe in hopes she'll find someone to love and someone to let her direct her script. When she meets Kurt, the rock star who lives in Australia, she falls madly for him and keeps the pregnancy from their night together a secret. Still, she snorts, smokes and ingests enough drugs to kill a horse, subconsciously destroying the child inside her. A late pregnancy trip to the gynecologist confirms the child is okay, but the question comes up again and again, even in the last moments of the movie, if Anna will end up killing herself and her child out of her desperate need for adventure.

Anna's character is a typical enfant terrible of the celebrity world, where everything is available with little or no consequences. Asia plays it to the hilt, from being a bad ass chick scoring hash from a dealer in Paris to her strange acquiescence in allowing the different people to abuse and degrade her, only to see her panic wildly when she realizes she's lost control. The actors are excellent, if a bit over the top, but it is that kind of film - wild, strange, erotic, destructive. The point is Anna is out of control and the audience gets to watch the downward spiral of fame and painful childhood memories push her ever deeper into despair, buoyed temporarily by dreams of love, sessions of raunchy sex or drug induced flights of fancy, that more than often lead to nightmarish trips.

The film was shot on digital video and looks it, but it still has a moody, giallo feel. The sets are wonderfully kitsch at times, especially at her abused girlfriend's Paris porn pad. Details are brilliantly used, from the rotting meat in the open fridge to the bizarre campy makeup of the Cleopatra screen test. It was a breathless film to watch, just like a 24 year old rambling on about their life thus far. Of course it made silly leaps and strange rationalizations, but overall, it was a fun trip to the world of celebrity, from the underbelly point of view. I wouldn't call this her masterpiece, her opus, but it's a good start to what I hope is a long and fruitful career. Scarlet Diva is a daring, unapologetic film that shows Asia Argento's promise as a director, a writer and actor.

By Melissa Ulto
© 2002

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Free Williamsburg© | 93 Berry Street | Brooklyn, NY 11211
[email protected] | September 2002 | Issue 30
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