A killer is on the loose in Milan, Italy. His victims all very beautiful women. His psychotic intent, to make them ugly by means of slicing up their pretty features. A tortured individual with a history of being picked on as a child, and ostracised due to his jaundiced condition. A medical frailty giving him a yellow skin pallor. The Italian translation for yellow, Giallo !.
Director Dario Argento strives once again to serve up an imaginative movie to place him back on the map of recognition. His legion of loyal fans yearning for a return to former glories. Sadly, as has been the case for far too long now, the master of suspense and stylistic slasher thrillers fails to re-ignite the genre, or his flailing career.
Adrien Brody stars as Inspector Enzo Avolfi, an American cop with an Italian heritage, investigating the most heinous of murder crimes in Italy. He is a loner and resides in the basement of the cities main police precinct, churning through his case load. His latest case is that of the on going murders of beautiful women, all visitors to Milan, so far more difficult to attain information on with no local ties or obvious connections.
The killer picks up his victims in a taxi cab, sedates them, and takes them back to his disused habitat away from residential population. There he carves and cuts them with all manner of dulled, cold blades, and hand tools. Some brief shots of his victims being cut, and particular use of a hammer, deliver unpleasant viewing. Taking sado sexual pleasure with his brutality the killer photographs his work, storing the pictures upon a laptop to view back at his leisure.
Beautiful fashion model Celine (Elsa Pataky) becomes his latest victim. Finishing late at a fashion show, and seeking to get home, and in out of the rain, as quickly as possible to meet up with her visiting sister Linda, she is unfortunate enough to get into the cab of the killer. When she fails to return home to greet her sister, Linda (Emmanuelle Seigner) goes to the police to report her as missing. They point her in the direction of Enzo Avolfi and suddenly she steps into his world of miscreants and murderers.
Enzo Avolfi’s insular character instinctively tries to push Linda to the sidelines, but her strong willed character rises above his gruff rebuttal, and together they piece together information that places Avolfi closer to catching this killer than he has ever been in months. With another body turning up, wrapped in plastic sheeting, and dumped in a public place, time is of the essence in finding the killer before Celine becomes his next victim !.
Brody looks awkward and almost disinterested in his role, but still manages to be one of the films saving graces despite this. Clearly he had issues with the production and has since taken legal action to stop the film getting an official release. Another set back for the once superlative Dario Argento, and a crying shame it is indeed, as anyone familiar with his earlier great work longs for at least one last hurrah from the movie maestro.
The movie as a whole never really builds up any great tension, nor escalates to an exciting climax. It just goes about its story telling in a fairly pedestrian manner. Most unforgiving of all is perhaps the fairly evident tag on at the end of the movie that pretty much says lets give the audience an explanation, rather than leaving the film on closure that to most will be evident at the relevant time. Make up your own minds, but the open ended cessation seems evident as to what Argento would have wanted, and although perhaps flat, leaves matters open for conjecture and discussion, good or bad.
No wonder Adrien Brody went on to play a bad ass alien butt kicker after this in Predators (2010). All of his pent up frustrations following his experience on Giallo would be beaten and battered to a bloody ‘deep red’. Far better representation of the old Argento, than this yellowed out pallor masquerading as a Giallo.
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