One of the many delights of co-organising the Cine Excess Conference and Festival last week was the opportunity to present Luciano Onetti's remarkable film Francesca. Here's the full version of the intro I wrote for the programme:
Luciano Onetti's second feature film, an Argentinian-made love letter to gialli is a sumptuous visual facsimile that might have fallen through time from 1970s Italy.
Aficionados of the genre will find much to commend Francesca to them: A series of grisly murders committed by a mysterious leather-gloved killer; hard-bitten detectives piecing together the victims' connections to a fifteen-year old case of a missing child (the titular Francesca); flashback sequences that raise as many questions as they answer; The Gates of Hell invoked by Dante's Divine Comedy; coins placed on the eyes of the dead, eyes traumatised, the eye of the camera, the glassy eyes of dolls that bear witness to the unfolding violence.
The production details too are convincing evocations of the film's lineage: The cinematography, the editing, the astonishingly faithful score, the performances (and the oft-times shaky dubbing into Italian), the vibrant colour grading (reds in particular bleed vividly into blue-green tinted shots, prefiguring the bloody ends of those somehow seemingly connected to Francesca's disappearance).
The set-dressing and costuming is especially note-worthy, transporting us into Francesca's circle of hell—and into Onetti's near-perfect recreation of the cinema that inspires it.
Highly recommended. (Francesca trailer on Vimeo)