On Halloween night, I had the pleasure of seeing Suspiria. Being one of the most anticipated films of the year, I was left in an overwhelming pool of joy. It’s a slow burn mystery with disturbing imagery and noir-esque paced filmmaking. While this film is definitely not for everyone, I personally felt the female empowerment deeply embedded in the script, performances and feel.
Starting off by the star-studded female cast, Tilda Swinton, Dakota Johnson, Mia Goth, Chloe Grace Moretz, and Jessica Harper, all deliver great performances. They all have their own moments of shine, but the real take away from this group was Tilda Swinton and Dakota Johnson. Tilda plays 2 characters in this film: Madame Blanche, and Dr. Josef Klemper, who happens to be a male Holocaust survivor. Throughout the entire film, you can barely tell Swinton was portraying the male doctor. Dakota Johnson brings her best performance to date with her fantastic choreography, and hypnotic screen presence. My biggest takeaway from the film, once again, is the way women are portrayed and how centered focused they are. Director Luca Guadagnino injected a style of #MeToo message which I found very interesting. Throughout the film, Guadagnino exploits those narratives through Chloe Grace Moretz character, Patricia. Her character, who is driven on fear and anxiety, explores the aftermath of not being taken seriously as a person.
Suspiria is an IP with a lot of potential, which is one of the reasons I was so excited to jump back into its world. To put it simply, Suspiria was one of why favorite theatrical experiences. Chilling, mesmerizing and fearsome, the film is an accomplishment in every perspective. At times, it makes you feel haunted and uncomfortable, while at other times, cheerful. The way Guadagnino pushed boundaries in some scenes was jaw-dropping and quite an experience to watch. Thom Yorke’s score is an absolute highlight and elevated the film in the best ways.
Suspiria will be controversial for many. It will definitely not be everyone flavor but for me, its one of the best ways to “reboot” an existing property. Every day that has gone by since I saw the movie has been filled with thinking about the chaotic dances & gruesome imagery while I hum along to the beautiful score. Suspiria has touched me in a way that my favorites of all time had.
As mentioned above, I felt Suspiria did a fantastic job with its female characters and brought a sense of empowerment and strength to their roles. Though, since I’m not a woman, I wanted to give this platform to two of my female friends to discuss their experience Suspiria.
The first is Donnia Harrington, lead writer of ComicBook Debate.
The female empowerment in Suspiria is reversed. Whenever we think of female empowerment in film, we almost always think of women in the role of the hero but Suspiria embraces the villainy of the female characters. They’re unapologetically evil, but they’re still layered characters. Just the fact that we’re seeing women in roles where they don’t have to be reduced to the sidelines speaks to how important it is to see women not only as leading characters but also as a variety of characters. If men can play complex villains, why not women too? There’s something refreshing about seeing women play the bad guy because they don’t have to apologize. They can just be who they are and in doing that they’re symbolically taking back their power.
The second quote is from my friend, Andrea.
Witches, real or not, are incredibly empowering female figures. The concept of women being strong and powerful but also evil is, to put it truthfully, really fucking cool. Even more so is the idea of women having powers and the way they were interpreted in Suspiria was so new and really sophisticated. In popular media we’re seeing more and more the image of a “strong female lead”, but they’re always righteous and just and kind. Women, in reality, are a lot more dynamic than that. We’re kind, empathetic, and motherly, but we can also be vindictive and hurtful. The quote “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” is something I’m obsessed with because the image of an angry woman is sort of like a middle finger to the patriarchal view of women being “crazy”. Like a yes, we are crazy, because in that word comes so much more- the reality of women being dynamic and strong and intelligent and cunning- a lot more than men are. To me, Suspiria really personified that. In literal ways, like the scene where the witches are messing with the two cops, and in other more subtle ways, like Susie being heavily motivated and confident. She gradually formed into the role of Mother Suspiriorum even before the ritual itself- because she wanted it. Because in her kind-hearted mousey appearance, there was so much more inside.
To conclude, Suspiria impacted me in a way that was both surprising, and satisfying. The film is both incredibly heartbreaking, and thought-provoking. The film will go down as one of my most favorite film experiences. These words are less of a review of a film, but more of a love letter to an experience that left me completely in awe. Suspiria will stick with me, and I couldn’t be happier about it.