(Please don’t let me be) Misunderstood: Movie Review

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Incompresa debuted at Cannes in 2014 and it’s Asia Argento’s third directorial effort. The movie is loosely based on Argento’s own childhood, particularly the time frame when her parents, actress Daria Nicolodi and master of horror director, Dario Argento, split up after ten years of being together. In the movie, the protagonist Aria (Argento’s real name) played by a remarkable Giulia Salerno, gets shuffled between her concert pianist mother (played by a moody Charlotte Gainsbourg and styled to resemble Nicolodi) and international movie star father (played by Italy’s heartthrob Gabriel Garko).

The movie opens with an instrumental by Brian Molko as Aria writes in her diary. Fun fact: for those of us who have read Asia Argento’s book I Love You Kirk (published back in 1999 and out of print now), will readily recognize the opening sequence is an excerpt from Argento’s very own childhood diary.

One of the first scenes in the movie depicts Aria getting hit hard by her mother to the point of spilling blood. Moments later though, her mother washes her bloodied lip and tells her, “Don’t play the victim card.” The following morning, after a violent fight with her spouse, Aria’s mother is washing the blood from her hair and tells her, “Look at what your father did to me. He’s a monster,” just as Aria touches her bruised lip, reminding her of her mother’s violent act.

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The fact that Aria comes from an affluent family, would usually make the audience unsympathetic towards her. But since she’s so clearly invisible in her family, just as she is in school, the protagonist becomes very relatable and likable. Nothing in Aria’s life ever goes right. At school she is taunted, her crush doesn’t like her, her mother seems bothered by her presence readily shipping her off to her dad, while her dad is just as neglectful and ordering her to go back to her mother whenever she upsets him or his daughter Lucrezia, and the only person who seems to care about her is her best friend Angelica (who later betrays her too).

The movie is bittersweet and dark, but the colour palette used in the scenes is vibrant and hopeful. The soundtrack is superb, as are the outlandish outfits worn by Aria throughout the movie. Every scene pulls at your heartstrings, bringing the audience closer to the grand finale. And like any tragic movie, for any moment of happiness, there are four scenes of sorrow. My favourite scene in the movie is the epic party scene that soon shifts from exciting and fun, to shame and disaster. After the ultimate betrayal (that’s almost reminiscent of Carrie’s Prom scene, sans the pig’s blood, but with the same amount of embarrassment and hurt), the audience doesn’t even bat an eye when Aria ultimately does the most horrific of gestures. Because we’re kind of expecting things to go <I>that</I> bad. We can understand her motives. We actually feel sorry that a nine-year-old girl has to feel so unloved. This movie is almost a cautionary tale for parents to be more attentive to their kids before it’s too late. Because the end result could be tragic, as it was in the movie, or they could just grow up to become moody artists who’ll capture your wrongdoings in a movie for the whole world to see.

But like Aria says at the end, “I didn’t tell you this so that you could feel sorry for me. I shared this with you, so that maybe if you meet me, you’ll be nicer.” This certainly has left me wanting to give Asia a hug albeit that may be a bit too sappy so maybe just a punk salute will do, “Revolution, baby!”

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This movie is raw, intense, and just overall beautiful. It’s the spawn of Charles Baudelaire and Sylvia Plath in images. Don’t miss it. Because once you watch it, you’ll be left enthralled and disarmed.

Incompresa (Misunderstood) is currently available on Netflix, Amazon, Itunes, and Youtube.

By: Azzurra Nox

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