With her husband Michael and their daughter Jordan, artist Isidora lives in New York a world away from her homeland, the mountains, valleys and vineyards of Tuscany which she has not visited for thirty years, but still the memories of that strange place and time intrude upon her thoughts, unwanted yet persistent daydreams and nightmares of her childhood.
Almost as if prompted, impossible news arrives of the death of her mother, Carlotta Rossetti, the Marchesa di Vezza, whom Isidora had believed dead decades before, a lie told to her by her father to protect her from her mother’s violent mental illness he now says, but inheriting her mother’s title and entire estate Isidora returns with her new family to the grand mansion where she grew up.
The villagers strangers to Isidora but who all claim to know about her and her family, the house, the gardens and the surrounding lands are vast but bring no comfort, the memories reshaping in her mind as she becomes convinced that even now the whole truth is being kept from her, about the missing years they were kept apart and the suicide of her mother.
Filmed under the hazy sun of northern Italy, the pacing as slow as a weather system rolling in from the coast, heavy and inevitable, Agony (The Executrix) is directed by Michele Civetta from a script co-written with Joseph Schuman, with Demons 2‘s Asia Argento as Isidora, uneasy following her displacement despite all the wealth she has now inherited and understandably struggling to adjust.
The costumes, locations and landscapes making as much of a contribution to the film as the muddy mechanics of the script, there are as many red herrings as there are bottles of red wine as Isidora searches for the elusive “lady in red” she has seen in visions all her life and now glimpses in the gardens, the superstitious villagers having believed her mother was a witch who was cursed with evil premonitions.
Django’s Franco Nero engaged to provide exposition and Kiss of the Damned‘s Jonathan Caouette serving little purpose other than to look concerned as Michael, calm and rational to the point of detachment, La lupa‘s Monica Guerritore fares better as the mysterious Angelica, head of the household staff and the only friend of the late Carlotta before the fireworks and masquerade of the Carnevale di Vezza add some late sparkle but little more focus to Agony’s meanderings.
Agony will be available on digital platforms from Monday 14th June