Finally, a quarter century after the failure of Inferno, Italian genre stylist Dario Argento wraps up his "Three Mothers" trilogy. The grand finale, set in Rome, sees archaeological restorer Asia Argento become the only person able to stand up to the reborn Mother of Tears (Moran Atias), as all around her the city falls prey to an epidemic of suicides and murder set loose by the digging up of a mysterious urn. Many Argento regulars (such as his late-seventies muse and partner, Daria Nicolodi, returning actors such as Coralina Cataldi-Tessoni and Udo Kier, and composer Claudio Simonetti, formerly of Goblin) make appearances, and the script, full of throwbacks to the two previous films, Suspiria and Inferno, makes a point of bringing together and neatly wrapping up all the loose ends in the trilogy.

     In many ways, Mother of Tears is a summing-up of Mr. Argento's evolution as a genre filmmaker, in the melding of murder mystery, suspense and horror elements and the few extraordinary set-pieces, as well as in the generally sturdier, stronger structure of the plot (even if it pretty much collapses in the final act). It is, however, a less visually inspired and more non-descript film, more formatted and less flamboyant than the previous episodes (though, in all fairness, Suspiria was pretty much unbeatable). What it has going for it, though, is the extraordinary sense of unease that Mr. Argento instils in the telling, with Rome turned into an often disquieting and mostly suggested Boschian apocalypse; that alone, along with the nicely paced narrative progression, survives the rather preposterously hurried ending. Mr. Argento may be treading water here, but at least Mother of Tears is more true to form than some of his recent work.

Cast: Asia Argento, Cristian Solimeno, Adam James, Moran Atias, Valeria Cavalli, Philippe Leroy, Daria Nicolodi, Coralina Cataldi-Tessoni, Udo Kier

Director: Dario Argento
Screenplay: Mr. Argento, Jace Anderson, Adam Gierasch, Walter Fasano, Simona Simonetti, from a story by Mr. Argento
Cinematography (colour, processing by Cinecittà, widescreen): Frederic Fasano
Music: Claudio Simonetti
Designers: Francesca Bocca, Valentina Ferroni
Costumes: Ludovica Amati
Editor: Walter Fasano
Visual effects: Lee Wilson
Make-up effects: Sergio Stivaletti
Producers: Dario Argento, Claudio Argento  (Opera Film Produzione for Medusa Film in collaboration with Sky Italia)
Italy, 2007, 97 minutes

Screened: DVD, Lisbon, September 1st 2012


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