My notes on Francesca
This Argentine giallo homage takes authenticity so far as to be acted in Italian, and set in a landmark-free version of Rome in an early ‘70s of reel-to-reel tape recorders and fetishist killers. While the directors of Berberian Sound Studio, Amer and The Love Witch draw on the visual and aural textures of giallo to explore personal concerns, Luciano Onetti offers straight-up pastiche. It’s not about anything except how much Onetti, who co-scripted with Nicolas Onetti, loves Sergio Martino, Dario Argento and Luciano Ercoli. In an element more in tune with the giallo-influenced Se7en, the murders are all references to Dante’s Inferno – which also inspired the killings in one of the BBC’s Messiah series – as well as the long-ago death or disappearance of the title character, daughter of suspicious poet Vittorio Visconti (Raul Gederlini).
The killer is a woman (or dressed as a woman) and has a striking variation on the traditional mystery slasher outfit, melding the Bird With the Crystal Plumage and Red Queen Kills 7 Times looks: red leather gloves, hat and coat, and a veil. Inspector Moretti (Luis Emilio Rodriguez) and Detective Succo (Gustavo Dalessanro) catch the case and deduce the Dante connection from pennies left on the eyes of the corpses. Onetti takes pains to evoke 1970s cinema, accepting the limiting factors of his chosen form: stock characters (all subservient to the twisted mystery), convenient plot turns and a mechanical parade of revelations (all the way down to a final unmasking in the last frames).