Monday, December 15, 2014

Movie Review: The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears

The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears
Directed by: Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani.
Written by: Bruno Forzani & Hélène Cattet.
Featuring: Klaus Tange (Dan Kristensen), Ursula Bedena, Joe Koener, Birgit Yew, Hans De Munter, Anna D'Annunzio, Jean-Michel Vovk, Manon Beuchot, Romain Roll, Lolita Oosterlynck, Delphine Brual, Sam Louwyck, Sylvia Camarda.

There is a plot in The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears – but directors Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani are not much interested in it. Basically, they use their bare bones of a plot to string together a series of striking visuals and set pieces inspired by giallo horror movies from Italian masters like Mario Bava and Dario Argento. A man, named Dan (Klaus Tange), comes home to his apartment to find his wife has gone missing. He investigates the disappearance – and deals with a cop who shows up at inopportune times – to try and figure out what happened. This investigation brings him into contact with his strange neighbors – and also causes some hallucinations and dreams, which is where the bizarre visuals and set pieces come into play. Eventually, the movie does commit to its narrative – kind of anyway, in its closing act, but even then, the movie remains a visual experience, not a narrative one. This isn’t so much a problem with the movie, as much as an observation. The problem is that the visuals start to repeat themselves, everything becomes fractured, and the individual moments – as stunning as some of them can be – never really cohere into a meaningful whole.

Movies like this are difficult to review. You cannot really talk about the acting, because the movie barely requires the actors to act (according to IMDB, only one character even has a name) – they are props as much as anything. You cannot talk about the narrative – because there isn’t really one. So what you are left with is talking about how it all looks and feels.
It must be said that the film does look amazing. There are striking images throughout – from an opening image of a blade and a women’s breast, to a masterful sequence of an older couple searching for something. The movie connects sex and violence, and is also about voyeurism. But horror movies have been doing both of things for decades now, and the film doesn’t really have anything of interest to say on either subject – it simply presents them over and over again, and then moves onto the next sequence, where they’ll do the same thing again.

I cannot fully dismiss the film – it does look amazing from start to finish. But what the film made me wish more than anything is that filmmakers would, next time out, not just string together a series of visually striking set pieces, disconnected from each other and everything else, but apply their obvious visual skills, and try to come up with a narrative to match it. Because they didn’t do that this time, what we are left with is a visually stunning movie that despite all the sex and violence is actually quite dull. It would play better as a museum installation piece, where you can see some of the great work, and move on, than as a movie where you sit there and watch it from 100 minutes straight.

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