A Quiet Place in the Country (1969)

aka Un tranquillo posto di campagna

Article 3632 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-10-2011
Posting Date: 7-25-2011
Directed by Elio Petri
Featuring Franco Nero, Vanessa Redgrave, Georges Geret
Country: Italy / France
What it is: A ghost story… maybe

An artist becomes obsessed with a dilapidated old mansion in the country, and his agent/lover arranges for him to rent the place so he can overcome his creative block. However, he becomes obsessed with the former resident, a beautiful nymphomaniac who died under odd circumstances… and who may haunt the place.

Many giallos are so stylistic that they flirt with being art films; this is one that goes the whole distance and becomes one. The title is obviously ironic, and this becomes apparent in the opening credits; between the weird images and Ennio Morricone’s jarring but brilliant score, one becomes aware that this movie is going to be anything but restful. On the surface, the story is made of familiar material; it’s a ghost story in a haunted mansion with a mysterious death, and there’s even a seance before it’s all over. But that’s just what’s on the surface, and what’s really going on is… well, I won’t tell you, but I’m afraid that the real explanation is equally familiar in other ways, and ultimately it is this that renders the movie a bit unsatisfying. Still, I can say this much; the beginning of the movie establishes a reality vs illusion theme, and it is this theme that eventually takes over the movie. There’s some nice stylistic touches (I’m particularly struck with how the agent’s first accident in the house is seen through a kaleidoscope) and some good performances, but in the end, I don’t think it quite passes muster.


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