Stars: Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, Mia Goth, Angela Winkler
Luca ‘Call Me By Your Name’ Guadagino’s remake of Dario Argento’s 70s shocker trades the lurid fever dream quality of the original for a more densely themed but problematic approach. Johnson is Susie Bannion, a seemingly innocent from a Mennonite community in Ohio, who has moved to Berlin to enrol at a dance school. Despite her demure demeanour, Susie’s fierce thrusting dance audition greatly impresses Madame Blanc (Swinton) the intense dance teacher who awards her a full scholarship along with free bed and board. Susie quickly finds a friend in neighbouring roommate Sara (Goth). In the film’s one real moment of horror Susie auditions for a part in the troupe’s latest piece ‘Volk’, just as the dancer she has replaced attempts to leave the building but is prevented by a brutal supernatural force. It gradually emerges that Madame Blanc and her colleagues are grooming Susie for more nefarious purposes. Meanwhile, in a subplot which intermittently brings the narrative to a grinding halt, the ageing Doctor Jozef Klemperer (billed as Lutz Ebersdorf) is attempting to find out what became of an earlier student who went missing. All the while radio reports in the background tell of hijackings and terrorist attacks. The production design is immaculate, suggesting Fassbinder relocated to a more ornate setting, and Thom Yorke’s score is eerily, unnervingly beautiful. But while the original was a relentless sensual assault, Guadagino attempts to load what was a pretty flimsy narrative with various subplots, as well as musings on the nature of evil and the passing down of historical crimes, and the clutter grows very wearing over the excessive 152 minute running time.