Monday, September 22, 2014
Misunderstood is playing on September 27 and 29 in the New York Film Festival.
In her directing as in her acting, Asia Argento exudes a wounded intensity that brings to mind a very young child who doesn't know how to get the attention she craves except by acting out. Misunderstood, her third feature as a director, is only slightly dependent on the self-pity that informed her last effort, The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, but it feels similarly airless. You never question the authenticity of the emotions, but you may get tired of the operatic way in which they're expressed, and of the solipsism that exempts the main character from any attempt to understand others while bemoaning the fact that no one loves or understands her.
That limited perspective is less jarring than usual because the main character is a child, nine-year-old Aria (Giulia Salerno). Plunging into the heart of Aria's dysfunctional family from the first volcanic scene, a family dinner in which Madre (Charlotte Gainsbourg) sulks and terrorizes the children while Padre (Gabriel Garko) lashes out at her, Argento captures a child's-eye view of chaos and volatility of a blended family headed by two charismatic narcissists, whose approach to parenting is to either smother their daughters with adoring but alarmingly boundary-free attention or reject them out of hand. Even the colors are saturated, the blues and greens Argento favors drawing even more attention to Salerno's wide blue eyes.
Read the rest on Slant Magazine