Saturday, June 13, 2009

[Italian Film Fest] Quo Vadis, Baby?


While I had very much enjoyed the film last night, Quo Vadis, Baby? was one that didn't really live up to expectations. To be fair I was benchmarking it with arguable one of the more renowned Gialli films out there in What Have You Done to Solange? but even on its own it didn't have too engaging a plot and felt more like a romance drama rather than an out and out Gialli film with murder, mystery and a chunk of exploitation thrown in.

Like your classic investigative noir film, we start with a private investigator, a female one in Giorgia Cantini (Angela Baraldi) who's in her 40s and a spinster feeling really miserable from her lack of love life, and haunted by the fact that her good looking older sister Ada (Claudia Zanella) had committed suicide many years back. Giorgia decided to finally re-open that investigations on her own because she had received a box full of VHS tapes, in what would be a confessional series as recorded by her sister. Back then blogs were unheard of, and keeping a diary is unhip, so the next best thing is to do what Paris Hilton does - record on film every little sordid detail of her life.

This of course proved to be invaluable wealth of information to an investigator, but for Giorgia it's something like becoming a voyeur into her pretty sister's life many years back, who as an aspiring actress won't think twice in using her physique to advantage, sleeping with anyone who could give her a role, and dabbling in plenty of vices, all of which dutifully documented. The mystery for Giorgia is to discover who "A" is referred to, possibly holding the key to her sister's death.

Quo Vadis, Baby? is like a film within a film, one which takes place in the present, and the other in the past, thanks to plenty of sitting through of those tapes that you'll begin to feel like a priest in a confession box. This technique of flashbacks take up almost half the time of the film, but offering no new revelation other than Ada being a cheap slut who probably deserved what she got. There's little worked on gaining your sympathy for the character, or empathy for Giorgia in living through such pain of discovering naughty details of a deceased sibling.

Complicating matters of course is Giorgia's messy love life, included so that some flesh could be shown in order for this film to join the ranks of the Gialli genre, which in some ways the romantic portion of the film stood out a lot more with its romantic themes, rather than knowing it had a mystery to resolve. And when it finally got down to doing so, it lacked some real punch as you can get ahead with its limited number of characters to guess from, and limped very much to the ending no thanks again to convenience and almost implausible odds.

Definitely not something I would recommend to anyone new to the genre, especially when there are other gems available which are more than worth its time.

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