“SCARLET DIVA”— A Semi-Autographical Directorial Debut


A Semi-Autographical Directorial Debut

Amos Lassen

Italian actress-writer-director Asia Argento, daughter of famed genre director Dario, has spent much of her life in the spotlight and under the glare of media scrutiny. Of late, we have seen a lot about her as one of the leaders in the “Why Me?” movement that deals with women who have been sexually assaulted and even more recently Argento has been accused of sexual assault on a young man. This is her directorial debut and like her it is quite dark. Argento plays Anna Battista, a rising young actress who, despite her popularity and success, experiences despair and degradation at the hands of the film industry. As she journeys towards redemption, she goes on an excessive spree across America and Europe while trying to recapture her innocence and find true love.

 This is a new restoration of “Scarlett Diva”. It was hailed by audiences and critics alike. However, before you sit down to watch it, you must make sure that you care enough about Asia Argento and her pain since she lets it all hang out as she tells us of her tormented life. I suspect that with her latest news, any following that Argento had is gone now.

Anna, (Asia Argento), is a big movie star and very unhappy about it. Sex, drugs and rock and roll make her miserable. She is a very lonely woman and wonders if she will ever be happy. I do not think that this is an exploitation flick even though it might seem like one because of the nudity and the sex. It is, however, a sleazy study in sexual abandon and druggy desperation. By conventional standards, this is an awful movie — crudely shot on digital video, indifferently acted and chaotically written but it is also weirdly fascinating and at times, curiously moving.

Anna takes us on a tour of the world’s seedy glamour capitals including Rome, Paris, London, Milan, Amsterdam and Los Angeles. Along the way, she deals with the thuggish advances of a heroin-addicted writer (Herbert Fritsch) and an American movie producer (Joe Coleman), who wants to cast her as Cleopatra in a movie that is to star Robert De Niro as Marc Antony and be directed by Gus Van Sant. In a Paris nightclub, she falls for a greasy-haired Australian rock star (Jean Shepard), who promptly vanishes.

”Scarlet Diva” is filled with self-pity. In her own mind, Anna is a lonely, misunderstood girl, haunted by memories of her mother, a drug-addicted actress and a sympathetic brother who was her first great love. She is victimized at every turn by the users and predators who inhabit her world. There is something comically self-indulgent in Ms. Argento’s direction, and in her performance. She attempts to show that the cinema’s icons of young, female sex appeal are subject to constant abuse and exploitation and that they find both pleasure and anguish in this. Her response is to take revenge by exploiting herself more thoroughly than anyone else could.


  • Two audio commentaries by Asia Argento (2002 & 2018)  
  • Looking into the Eye of the Cyclops with Joe Coleman
  • Asia Argento interview
  • Making of Scarlet Diva
  • Original release promos
  • 20-page commemorative booklet

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