Friday, 27 December 2013

The Devil Has Seven Faces (1971)



Writing a satisfying mystery is very hard. Ideally you want to have enough clues and hints that when you reveal the answers, your audience says 'Oh. of course!', while obfuscating those clues and hints enough that people watching haven't worked it out before your characters do. It's a rough balancing act. Which is probably why many mysteries cheat: they withhold information from the audience, or outright lie to them.

This doesn't automatically make the movie bad. The Usual Suspects cheats its socks off, but it turns that cheating into a feature, not a flaw. The same, alas, is not true of The Devil Has Seven Faces. In this tedious Italian effort you'd be hard-pressed to find a single major character who isn't lying through their teeth - to each other, and to the audience - for most of the movie's duration. This is presumably meant to keep you guessing, but you'd have to care enough to want to guess, first, and the film-makers appear to have left that step out of their plans.

I'm not going to bother with a synopsis at all because it would end up being something like 'A woman lies to a man. He lies right back. Then they both lie to another man, who has contacted them under false pretences. A crime occurs (only not really because it is partly staged) and everyone lies to the police about it. The police pretend to be fooled'.

The only redeeming feature to this movie is the dreadful, dreadful fashion. There are some sublimely hideous outfits to be seen, including one woman who appears to be wearing a quilt as a dress.

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