In the 1973 horror classic Don’t Look Now, Venice played itself as a soggy ghost town. Nearly 40 years later, Andreas Pichler’s sobering documentary The Venice Syndrome confirms the great city is haunted, alright – by its own impossibly glamorous legacy of gorgeous girls and gondoliers.
This centre of Italian history and culture remains one of the world’s great tourist traps, but the brightly painted and carnivalesque face that Venice presents to visitors disguises its true, scarred countenance. If tourists saw the real Venice, they would run back home, and the people who actually live there would give anything to tag along.
Working in a loose, intimate style that belies his strong journalistic point of view, Pichler gathers testimony from a host of native Venetians bemoaning their hometown’s chilly social and economic climate. The most eloquent character, however, is the city itself, which seems to be sinking into a watery grave right before our eyes.