Thursday, March 14, 2019

KNIFE + HEART: a new knock-your-socks-off visual treat from Yann Gonzalez

If the very first shot of an electric fan and a woman's fingernails doesn't grab you, I'd suggest maybe Yann Gonzalez's new movie KNIFE + HEART (Un couteau dans le coeur) is not for you.

On the basis, however, of his new film, together with Gonzalez's initial full-lengther, You and the Night, this guy (pictured below) is TrustMovies' kind of filmmaker -- possessing a mise en scène to die for.

And in this movie, several characters literally do.

Here we are in Paris, back in 1979, surrounded by gay porn, drugs, disco, a serial killer, sex and violence, lost lesbian love, and of course some eye-popping cinematography, costumes and production design. There is plenty of wit and humor, too, especially one particular scene in the movie-within-the-movie in which a pair of detectives question their suspect to very naughty, hilarious results.

Hell, even the horror-murder sequences go so far over the top as to tickle your funny bone, even as you wince. Witness here the blow-job from hell.

Oh, but don't expect anything hardcore. Even though Knife + Heart concerns a woman porn producer/director (the gap-toothed and still gorgeous Vanessa Paradis, above) who insists not only on full-bodied erections but eyes inflamed with passion in place of the usual zonked-pout gaze of a drugged-up actor, the dicks we occasionally catch glimpses of are soft as baby mice.

No matter. There's still that fabulous mise en scène. The performances are mostly enchanting, too: oddball, sweet and even rather "real." One of my favorites is that of the "fluffer" (played by Pierre Pirol) who so thoroughly enjoys his job. Ms Paradis carries the emotional eight of the movie, together with Kate Moran (above, right), who plays her "ex." The standout performance is given by Nicolas Maury (below, of Call My Agent), who imbues his drama-queen character, Archibald Langevin (Paradis' assistant and best pal), with enough wit and wonder to win you over despite the ridiculousness of so much of what he does and says.

The lesser characters are given their due, too, and each plays his part with so much charm and joie de vivre that you won't want to see them meet their fate. The movie' last half grows even more interesting as everything from a rare, blind bird and a mutant genetic disorder to a magical forest, a cemetary, a missing child and some strange black-and-white flashbacks featuring a terrible fire join forces to bring together a plot whose purpose is actually to tweak the genre while entertaining you, rather than asking you to solve some rational mystery.

The lengthy end credits sequence is just lovely: sexual, passionate, absolutely beautiful and shot through with a love of cinema, as well as GBLT concerns. And while the film occasionally makes a point regarding something social or political, it never hammers anything home. Bruce LaBruce could learn a thing or two here.

From Altered Innocence and running 103 minutes, Knife + Heart opens tomorrow, Friday, March 15, in New York City (at the Roxy Cinema, Tribeca, and the Alamo Drafthouse, Brooklyn) and on Friday, March 22 in Los Angeles (at the the Landmark NuArt). Director Yann Gonzales will be doing Q&A's at theaters in both cities. Click here and scroll down to see all currently scheduled playdates, cities and theaters.

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