Blu-ray: Scarlet Diva

STUDIO: Film Movement | DIRECTOR: Asia Argento | CAST: Asia Argento, Joe Coleman, Daria Nicolodi, Jean Shepherd, Francesca d’Aloja, Selen
RELEASE DATE: Sept. 25, 2018 | PRICE: DVD $17.99, Blu-ray $22.98
BONUSES: archival and new commentaries, interviews, featurettes
SPECS: NR | 91 min. | Foreign language drama | 1.85:1 widescreen | 2.0 stereo | Italian, French and English with English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video  | Overall

Asia Argento has been in the thick of it this past year and this past month in particular just as the fiery Italian actress/writer/director’s 2000 directorial debut Scarlet Diva arrives in a newly-restored HD edition this week.

The daughter of horror and giallo godfather Dario Argento, Asia broke into the filmmaking business as a teenager (most notably in her daddy’s 1989 production The Church and 1993’s Trauma) and is no stranger to the more sinister side of cinema and celebrity. That said, Scarlet Diva—which she wrote, directed and stars in—is a dark, semi-autobiographical vanity tale that’s as voyeuristically effective as it is deliriously self-serving.

In the film, Argento plays is rising Italian actress Anna Battista whose popularity and success is mirrored by her often degrading drug-and-sex fueled experiences in the film industry. Shot on high-definition video and edited in an engagingly free-form style, the film received generally enthusiastic if not-always positive notices upon its release nearly twenty years, when its creator was just beginning to make waves in Hollywood following her success in Europe.

Film Movement’s newly restored edition of the film looks striking, its deliberately saturated color palette underlining the excess that Ms. Argento was undoubtedly looking for. Most fascinating among the disc’s bonus materials is the new commentary track Ms. Argento made for this re-issue. Recorded in 2018, many months after Asia accused producer Harvey Weinstein of sexually assaulting her in the 1990s, the track finds her in a far different state of mind than she was in when she recorded her first commentary for the film back in 2002. Both are included here and are certainly worth listening to.

In the 2018 commentary, a husky-voiced and steely Ms. Argento speaks as a veteran player of nearly 30 years in the European and Hollywood filmmaking game. There’s a lot of anger in what she says, led by her comments during the now-notorious scene of her character being assaulted by a predatory Hollywood producer in his hotel room, with artist Joe Coleman portraying the Harvey Weinstein-like assailant. Of the scene, wherein Asia’s character escapes the predator’s clutches before he is able to rape her—not so in real life, as she announced last year—Ms. Argento is all growl, offering the following comments:

-“After this, I’ve never had a man lick my pu—y again.”
-“I wanted to be saved.”
-The disgust I felt—only a woman who has gone through it can know it.”

This sounds markedly different than Ms. Argento’s original 2002 commentary over the scene, where, in a far lighter tone, she talks about how the incident was based on something that happened to her in real life. By accompanying the producer to his room, she admits, what happened was “my fault entirely.” She also offers the rather, er, “revealing” revelation that she wasn’t wearing panties while filming the scene.


Buy or Rent Scarlet Diva

About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.