Monday, August 25, 2014

In the mood for a gorgeous visual nightmare? Try Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani's THE STRANGE COLOR OF YOUR BODY'S TEARS

Should fabulously imaginative, if rather dark, visuals be your thing, rush right out to see THE STRANGE COLOR OF YOUR BODY'S TEARS. While watching this very odd movie, which is unlike most else that I've seen, I was put in mind of another film I'd viewed a few years back, neither the name of which nor the particular filmmaker I could remember. But the very off-kilter visuals, the "darkness" of the themes, the barely concealed sexuality, and the uneasy/queasy combination of sex and violence -- all of this kept bringing to mind that earlier movie.

Sure enough, when I finished watching and went to the IMDB to look up the filmmaker(s) -- Hélène Cattet and  Bruno Forzani (shown above) -- there they were. And there it was, too:  that earlier movie -- Amer -- that this new one called to mind. Turns out this talented, if unusual, pair had made both films.

The plot of their latest, such as it is, does not particularly lend itself to description. Best to think of it as a kind of unending nightmare: one of those that goes from seemingly normal and routine to suddenly way off-base -- a man (Klaus Tange, above) returns from a business trip to find his wife missing (we suspect we have just seen her murdered, but we don't know for certain that the woman is his wife) -- and then into the utterly bizarre and fragmented, lunatic and perverse.

Involved in all this are stories within stories that include the man's neighbors (one of whom is above), that missing wife and/or maybe another woman (below), a seemingly useless detective (further below), and other assorted characters -- who may or may not even exist.

All this could be taking place within the mind of our not-quite hero, rather than in any kind of "real" world -- which, in any case, this movie never begins to approach.

But, ah, the colors and patterns and designs and cinematography (Manuel Dacosse) and editing (Bernard Beets). These are very nearly hypnotic (sometimes a little too much so) and often so beautiful, if always threaten-ing and dark, that you really do not want to take your eyes off the screen.

The movie is also highly sexual/violent (Amer, as I recall, was seen from a woman's viewpoint; this one is certainly more from a man's) with everything from male and female full-frontal on display to more subtle ramifications of sexuality.

So what's really going on here? By film's end, I think we know, but I am not sure if the movie-makers would consider my talking about it as a spoiler. So maybe, should you plan to see this film, better skip the following paragraph.

What we may have here (I say "may" because I can't be absolutely sure) is another nod to childhood sexuality and how it can frame sex for us for the remainder of our lives.  The visuals used to offer this up are as stunning as are all the rest in the film, yet the idea itself may by now be a bit overused.

Still, I swear you're not going to want to look away for even one second, so enticing (and then unsettling) is what Cattet and Forzani have on offer.

From Strand Releasing and running a just-slightly overlong 102 minutes, The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears (hard to resist a title like that!) opens theatrically this Friday, August 29, in New York City at the IFC Center and in Los Angeles at the Arena Cinema.

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