“Scarlet Diva” is one disjointed damn movie. Our star, writer and director is Italian beauty Asia Argento who tells the story of one Anna Battista, a put-upon Italian actress who started taking crap from her mother as a child and basically moved from one abusive relationship to the next throughout her young life–in a melodramatic whirlwind of sex, drugs and middling alterna-pop.
In case you don’t know, Asia’s the daughter of Dario Argento, the cult horror film director who’s also producer on “Scarlet Diva.” And with Asia getting a lot of attention in the U.S. for her co-starring gig in XXX with Vin Diesel, this probably seemed like a fine time to release her semi-autobiographical little opus.
As the story progresses, Anna/Asia goes through various OD’s and unprovoked a*s whoopings until, out at a club one night, Anna meets up with a rock singer named Kirk (Jean Shepard) who seems like a real prince for awhile (especially when he gives Anna his awesome, shiny vinyl pants as some kind of souvenir). But later when she finds she’s pregnant and tries to confront the grubby-looking bastard, she finds out he’s married with children. And this is basically the kind of luck she has throughout.
The flashback sequences to her childhood with her mean old Mom (played by her real-life mother Daria Nicolodi, in a rather thankless role) seem, like the rest of the movie, rather self-serving and self-obsessed. Mom was mean to her when she had the measles? That monster!
We also get to see seemingly pointless scenes like Argento shaving her pits. It’s all mish-mashed together with no pacing and not much structure.
After awhile you start to catch on that this chick is a serious head case. In the bonus interview included on the DVD, Asia informs us that she wanted to include a b********y scene in the movie, but the producers wouldn’t let her. Well, those bastards! And her director’s commentary is a real howl as well. Sounding like she just mainlined some really good smack, she says that Vincent Gallo is “a piece of s**t” because he wanted too much money to appear in “Scarlet Diva.” A couple of others get the “piece of s**t” rating from Ms. Argento, as well–and after awhile you get the idea it doesn’t take much to piss her off. The movie looks great, however, and it’s impressive to learn that it was all shot digitally. The film’s dialogue is half-Italian/half-English which would be fine, except there were no subtitles on my DVD copy–making Argento’s director’s commentary invaluable in piecing together exactly what the hell was going on in some scenes.
Argento sure looks great (and spends a fair amount of time naked), but “Scarlet Diva” proves that she needs to leave the filmmaking to someone else. Still, this film has a lot of camp appeal.