There are certain things every giallo has. There is a distinctive color scheme, sexual tension, and lots of bloody murder. Most noticeably, many have an eye catching title that borders on silly. Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion is a film title that is impossible not to notice. It also perfectly explains the plot of the movie. There definitely is a lack of subtlety in the movie’s name, but it does manage to engage its audience.
Forbidden Photos is about a housewife named Minou. Minou is married to a wealthy man and lives an extravagant life. Unfortunately, she does not get as much attention from her husband Peter as she would like. Peter works often and many times late at night, leaving Minou bored at home. She manages to cope through a mixture of drinking and pills until one night a man attacks her and warns her that her husband is a killer. This leads to a sexually charged blackmail attempt. Or is it all in Minou’s drug addled mind?
Forbidden Photos sets itself apart from other giallo in two very visible ways. The film lacks the high body count that is normally found in the genre. Giallo are known for their use of color and one of the most striking is the deep red of a mutilated body. Forbidden Photos is surprisingly violent at times, but it is never grisly. Some genre fans may even be disappointed by what they do not see.
The other way director Luciano Ercoli’s film differs is the lack of nudity. There are the racy photos of the movie’s title, but otherwise there is very little nudity. This has no impact on the overall quality of the film, but it will definitely catch viewers off guard. It is akin to seeing a 1980’s comedy without a superfluous breast shot or a slasher without a random sex scene.
This is not to say that Forbidden Photos lacks for sexual tension. In fact, it can be argued that the lack of nudity enhances the erotic nature of the film. Instead of just throwing everything out for the audience to see, Ercoli leaves it up to the imagination. Scenes are shot to the point where there must be bare flesh before the camera will suddenly pan away. It is a great idea that titillates the audience while also keeping the tension high. The movie is constantly promising something more with each shot and keeps audience engaged.
Ercoli’s direction is the high point of Forbidden Photos. The plot is poorly written as there does not even really seem to be a mystery until about midway through the film. It is a bunch of things happening, the audience then realizing there is an unanswered question or two, followed by the audience immediately figuring out what has happened. The ending is also anticlimactic and incredibly confusing. Ercoli manages to keep the people engaged due to his deft work.
Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion is a standard giallo that does things just a little different. Those differences make the movie stand out, however. Director Luciano Ercoli does an excellent job of turning what would be a forgettable film into one that audiences will be able to enjoy.
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