Writer: Luciano Onetti, Nicolás Onetti
Cast: Luis Emilio Rodriguez, Gustavo Dalessanro
Running time: 79mins
What’s the story: Two detectives hunting a serial killer must probe into the unsolved disappearance of young girl Francesca fifteen years previously.
What’s the verdict: Following in the bloody footsteps of Berbarian Sound Studio, Amer and The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears, Luciano Onetti’s Francesca is the latest movie to refract the giallo through an arthouse lens.
A loose story has Inspector Moretti (Rodriguez) investigating a series of brutal murders in 1970s Italy, a case that repeatedly returns him to the unsolved vanishing of Francesca a decade and a half earlier. The killer quotes Dante’s Divine Comedy and it seems Moretti and his partner Succo (Dalessanro) are indeed orbiting a circle of Hell.
Onetti and sibling co-writer Nicolás are only passingly interested in plot, deigning to properly kick start the story twenty minutes into the swift 79 minute running time.
What interests them is playing with giallo motifs (childhood trauma, family secrets, pointed references to high art), indulging in cool giallo imagery (fetishised black gloves, straight razors, eye-catching costume and set design) and staging grisly set-piece murders. All taken with a double shot of JB whisky.
Audiences unfamiliar with All the Colours of the Dark, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, What Have They Done to Solange etc, etc, are likely to fidget in their seats (and knock a star off the rating) as the fractured story unfolds.
Even gialloficionados, though admiring the spot on recreation of that 70s giallo look, are unlikely to warm to this as much as the smarter, more interesting Amer.
Plus, it is worth remembering giallo movies were intended to entertain mass audiences and were far more accessible than what is on show here.
Maybe those wishing to homage classic Italian thrillers should use the motifs and visuals to wow mainstream movie-goers? De Palma did it with Dressed to Kill back in 1980; time for another go-round?
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