A White Dress for Marialé

A White Dress for Marialé

Maybe we're not all innocent?
As a child, Marialé (Ida Galli, credited as Evelin Stuart) witnessed her father murder her mother and her mother's lover before turning the gun on himself. Now, years later, she finds herself in a crumbling pallazo married to Paolo (Luigi Pistilli), a rich brute who secretly sedates her. To ease the boredom and seek help, Marialé invites friends over for a raucous party. Guests include her former flame, Massimo (Ivan Rassimov), Semy (Shawn Robinson) and her racist husband Gustavo (Edilio Kim), and Mercedes (Pilar Velasquez), Joe (Giancarlo Bonuglia) and Sebastiano (Ezio Marano), who form their own open love triangle. Passions are unleashed over dinner, but things soon turn serious when one by one, the guests start turning up dead. Is Paolo offing his unwelcome visitors? Has Sebastiano's jealousy finally gotten out of hand? It all leads to a bloody conclusion!

In its first half, A White Dress for Marialé is one of those freak-out gialli like Death Falls Lightly or Spasmo, where a dream-like stream-of-consciousness narrative skips around, disorienting the audience until we're dizzy and confused. In the second half , the movie sobers up and sticks its landing as a standard drawing-room whodunnit. If you find the crazy psych-out style tedious like I do, just watch the first 15 minutes and then skip ahead to the movie's midpoint. 

  • It's not a great movie by any stretch, but there's some real talent on both sides of the screen. Ida Galli, Ivan Rassimov and Luigi Pistilli are Giallo all-stars. Editor Francesco Bertuccioli worked on Sister of Ursula and Strip Nude for your Killer and Bruno Nicolai, one of the best composers of giallo scores ever, goes uncredited here.
  • The movie was filmed at the Palazzo Borghese in Rome.
  • We breeze quickly through character introductions at the beginning of the film, so it's easy to get confused about who's who and how they're all connected. On top of that, Gustavo and Sebastiano sort of resemble each other and they spend half the movie in stage costumes and makeup, making things even more confusing. I had to draw a diagram to keep everything straight.
  • There seems to be a half-hearted "relflection" motif, where characters – especially Marialé – are shown in mirrors or reflected in windows. I was expecting it to foreshadow a split-personality twist, but that never came to pass
What the Hell am I Watching?

So much to cover here...

 Let's start with the part where a harmless garter snake – no more than half an inch around – crawls over Mercedes' foot. When she screams, Paolo immediately pulls out a gun and shoots it off her. Paolo is a). more than a little over-reactive and b.) an amazing marksman.

Let's talk about the scene where Semy feels up and gropes an empty suit of armor.

The women in this movie really get brutalized. Before getting murdered, they're constantly slapped around and Mercedes gets raped in one disturbing scene.

Speaking of getting slapped, my brain broke at the sight of Gustavo wearing a ballerina's dress in a slap fight with a naked Semy. The fight is broken up by Joe, who beats Gustavo with a whip. For real. What the hell am I watching?

Throughout the movie, I kept asking myself: Do these people even like each other? Why are they here? Why are they in these toxic relationships?

Fashion Moment

True to the title, Marialé does wear a white dress. In fact it's the same white dress her mother was murdered in. You can clearly see the two bullet holes on her chest. Foreshadowing!

Things get out of hand at the costume dinner.

And the aftermath of the feast looks like a Renaissance Dutch still life.

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