Thursday, December 25, 2014

FILM REVIEW: The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears (2013)


What an exquisite mindfuck of a film...and I mean that in the best way possible.

What if the creators of Amer  decided to make a mystery strictly using the best elements from an Argento film? Well...you would be watching the brilliantly made The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears, of course. Altho...I'm not completely convinced that the word brilliant will be thrown into one's vocabulary upon viewing the film for the very first time. It took me a few times watching the film before everything clicked. The first time was strenuous. The second time, I was drunk on whiskey. And the third time it was completely...magical. The film drew me in and held me lovingly in its black leather gloves.

At first, The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears  plays like a best of mix tape of 70's giallo complete with the classic hallmarks...including the aforementioned black leather gloves, switchblade or straight razor, stained glass (unbroken and shards of it), sweeping Technicolor-like shots of an architectural marvel....aaaand (!)...there's even a fucking peacock in the film. Yup...a peacock. It would seem as if writers/directors Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani went to some sort of Argento school, graduated with high honors and used what they've learned to create an extreme love letter to the brilliant filmmaker. Only, it is sooooo much more than just that. I mean, don't get me wrong, there are certainly times when you're sitting there watching the film and the Argento-scapes hit you in the face harder than a Peter North money shot. However, the experience would suggest many more layers than just some Italian homage film.


There are many ways to tell the same story. Cattet and Forzani prove that their way is the best way. Or, at least the most creatively expansive way. The story takes place as Dr. Dan Kristensen (a very committed Klaus Tange) arrives at a French airport and makes a phonecall to his home to inform his wife, Edwige, that he should be home in a little bit. So, when he finally arrives at the ballet school---I mean...his home, Edwige is nowhere to be found...thus beginning the mystery of the film. At the core, the story is basically a "whodunit" kind of mystery in which Kristensen spends most of the running time doing his best to figure out where in the Jesus his beloved Edwige has gone off to. Only, it explores many more twists and turns all throughout. The film even morphs into a sort of anthology in that while it goes off and explores some back story with some of the other characters, it feels as if the broader film that we are watching pauses for a bit to make way for a short film here and there exploring some very dark places with different lens filters and camera tricks painting pictures of the other players in the film that include a detective, an older woman in lace, a pervy-looking older man and a brunette hottie into some weird sexual stuff. It's all relative to the main story in some way as it gives insight into what we're searching for by dropping clues here and there. That is...if you're clever or stoned enough to catch those particular clues. If not...well...at least the film looks meticulously beautiful thanks to the cinematography of one Manuel Dacosse. And, goddamn, that arresting soundtrack that just lures you deeper into the giallo rabbit hole is quite something to behold. I would say...if nothing else, The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears  is worth a look and listen.

The acting really is top notch for an affair like this. The entire cast feels devoted to making sure each one of their characters finds the center of the film and expands on it with each one of his or her performance. Such a strong display of acting talent throughout the entire film. Klaus Tange, for instance, really goes balls deep in this film and truly gives a performance to think about once the credits role. His is pretty much the central role in a movie filled with engaging characters. There's even a moment when suspicion is cast upon Kristensen himself and there's a kind of shift in the film only reserved for Hitchcockian brilliance.


And if I could spend a couple of minutes on the grue and sex in the film. Wowzers, Penny! So many nipples to be had! Just the vagina imagery alone is enough to send one into vulva-tastic frenzy. There's also uncircumcised old penis for the ladies and gents into that sort of thing. But, man...what an onslaught of sexual imagery left and right! And it's not overt....well...actually, never mind...it is pretty overt. Loved it! Also, the gore in the film was pretty great. There are so many classic up close scenes where the knife or shard of glass is digging into flesh a la Argento-style...and even the stuff off camera is all pretty disturbing. Really all-around great stuff!

And lemme just go back to that gorgeous cinematography and the psycho-visceral effects of the film. Man, what a tour de force of lunacy! The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears  does it's absolute best to take you to the limits of your own sanity, while also pushing the story along in an original manner. I realize it all feels fucking crazy and, at times, your endurance will be tested...but, if you can hold on...it is a rewarding cinematic experience. Be it a repetitively rewarding one.

Listen, The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears  will often melt your brain and might very well be the most convoluted film you will see (and hear) in a long time. But, in a time when an Argento film is not what it used to be, this is about as close as one can get to the genius that Dario, himself, used to muster effortlessly. The Italian master should take comfort in knowing that it takes two extraordinary French filmmakers to equal the brilliance that he used to have. This is a film not suited for everyone...but, everyone should give it a shot. It is, at once, provocatively beautiful, fucking psycho, richly sexual and genuinely Giallo. 



Thanks for reading,

bryan.




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