Sunday, April 15, 2007

Review of A Lizard in a Woman's Skin

Lucio Fulci, a director equally comfortable in the zombie and giallo genres, made one of his best of the latter with “A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin” which he also wrote. The films stars Florinda Bolkan as Carol Hammond, a woman’s whose Freudian dream sequences accurately predict the murder of her neighbor, a hedonist who throws rambunctious drug-fueled orgies at her opulent flat. The exulted combination of Ennio Morricone composing and Bruno Nicolai conducting provides some bristling, chaotic tunes that compliment the psychological turmoil of the protagonist.

After the neighbor's body is discovered, Carol soon becomes the prime suspect in the investigation but more is going on than meets the eye. Carol’s father is receiving blackmail phone calls, her husband is conducting an affair and her daughter is leading a dangerous investigation of her own. Meanwhile, two ghoulish hippies that appeared in Carol’s dream show up in real life.

Fulci takes the clichés of dream sequences and psychoanalytic analysis and turns them on their heads with brilliant results. Everything in Fulci’s dream imagery has a disturbing power, from a train corridor packed with naked revelers to images of her husband enthroned on a silver chair.

Carol’s psychologist believes some of the imagery is the result of her repressed lesbianism and clues seem to lie in the mise-en-scene, such as the eerie paintings by artists like Francis Bacon [comparison below], calling to mind the Edvard Munch paintings in “Deep Red” and the haunting portrait in “Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key.” However, the thematic leitmotif of the film is that almost everything can have two interpretations.

The satisfying plot is all the more impressive considering that the body count is so small. Perhaps this works in Fulci’s advantage since the suspect list stays nearly undiminished for so long, keeping the audience guessing frantically.

Fulci’s camerawork is unusually mature with less focus on gory kills, nudity (except in the first fifteen minutes) or crazy lighting and plenty of effort on composition. Reflection shots appear quite often, including one in polished wood varnish and another in a motorcycle fender (to name a few). The framing and camera positioning has exactly the type of surprising cleverness that keeps the viewer conscious of the director’s skilled manipulation.

As will almost all Fulci films, the pacing isn’t particularly good. Scenes of pure inspiration, such as the ten minutes sequence where a motorcycle-helmed killer chases Carol from the catacombs of an old church to the rooftop, are wedged between scenes of clunky police conversations. Then too, the acting is universally wooden with no memorable performances (either good or bad).

Walrus Rating: 7

1 comment:

The-Iron-Inspector said...

Hi Walrus...great review. I've been thinking about picking this up for a while now but I've heard so many different reports about which release is fully uncut,but the ratio is many conflicting releases??? I have no idea which one to go for...any advice?

Cheers for leaving the comments on my blog..ypu can find the poliziotteschi top ten there. Thanks again