Agony (2020)

June 6th, 2021
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Michele Civetta | Cast: Asia Argento, Jonathan Caouette, Claudia Salerno, Nick Daly, Ninetto Davoli, Franco Nero, Monica Guerritore |

In this fantasy melodrama, New Yorker Isidora (Argento) gets hit by a bombshell in the opening scene – the mother she thought had died in the 1970s has only just departed this world leaving her troubled daughter Isadora the marchese of an extensive Tuscan estate.

Once in Tuscany (actually Viterbo slightly further south) strange things start to happen and Isadora is plagued by hallucinations of a grey-haired wailing woman who haunts the medieval castle in psychedelic magic realist sequences that dovetail seamlessly into Nicola Pecorini’s lushly rendered visuals that create a great sense place in the rural Italian settings. A pig-trailed Franco Nero (Carlo) is the only person she feels she can trust and the two instantly bond when he confesses to a close friendship with her mother (“she saved me from a haze booze and baccarat”) claiming she fell victim to a religious curse in the village back in the time of the Spanish Inquisition.

Driven forward by Bardi Johannson’s sinister soundscape Michele Civetta’s feature debut has echoes of Jane Eyre and an impressive Italian cast (Franco Nero joins fellow Pasolini veteran Ninetto Davoli) – but there’s also something spooky going on with his script (co-written by the film’s producer Joseph Schulman) that seems tonally out of kilter with the histrionic New Yorkers who are crass and cartoonish in the context of the otherwise rather enjoyably lowkey poetic narrative that grows increasingly outlandish in their wake. MT

OUT ON 14 JUNE 2021



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