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  Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears, The And It Was All Giallo
Year: 2013
Director: Hélène Cattet, Bruno Forzani
Stars: Klaus Tange, Ursula Bedena, Joe Koener, Birgit Yew, Hans de Munter, Anna D'Annunzio, Jean-Michel Vovk, Manon Beuchot, Romain Roll, Lolita Oosterlynk, Delphine Brual, Sam Louwyck, Sylvia Camarda, Ann de Visscher, Mihcael Fromowicz, Alexandre Hornbeck
Genre: Horror, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Dan Kristensen (Klaus Tange) is returning home after a business trip where he works in the telecommunications industry, and as he steps off the plane he leaves a message on his answer machine to be heard by his wife, as for some reason she is not picking up the telephone, so he has to assume she has left their posh apartment whenever he has tried to call her. Dan makes a lot of money at his job, enough to keep his wife Edwige very comfortable, she doesn't even need a job of her own so there is no real motive for her to take off, and when he finally arrives home he is baffled to see no sign of her, not even a note saying where she has gone. He becomes increasingly concerned and agitated as he begins his search of the building which conceals dark secrets...

Though whether you're any the wiser about what those secrets could be at the end of the film than you were at the beginning was a moot point as many of those who made it through the whole movie were certain they had seen something, but were not entirely sure what they were supposed to conclude from it. As with this directing duo's previous feature Amer, directors Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani drew from their appreciation of the Italian giallo thrillers, here constructing what at first glance appeared to be a basic murder mystery from various aspects of what some would call the conventions of the genre, and what others may well term the clichés. What lent it the originality was the general cumulative effect of those images.

That said, it gave the experience a rather deadening effect as well, for it was very easy to allow all this to play out before your eyes and ears and feel entirely unengaged with it, even on an artistic level. The further Dan delves into his wife's disappearance the higher the number of sequences that head positively nowhere pile up, so while you can appreciate an arresting visual such as the hero's chest made to bleed by having pieces of glass ground into it by a pair of large, bare breasts (more tea, vicar?), quite what we were meant to take away on a plot level was something very different, and remained obscure right to the end credits. There was a theme here on how the staged killing of women in giallo represented essentially a coping mechanism stemming from the masculine fear of the feminine, mind you.

But it didn't go much further than that, content to flit from what appeared to be dream sequence after dream sequence, riffing on Cattet and Forzani's pet subjects with great style but little forward momentum. Even so, it wasn't an assembly of greatest hits from gialli past, as each scene had a curious twist to present on the trappings of the setpieces fans would be familiar with. Accompanied by a vintage soundtrack, the black gloved hands were there, the assassin in black leather coat whose face we do not see, the preponderance of knives and sharp objects all too able to slice flesh (which they do), the young women who become victims almost in a cinematic rite, sacrificing them on the altar of suspense and thrills, the disoriented hero who is more at the mercy of the mystery than its master, and so on.

But with those elements in mind, the directors were subversive enough to craft some fever dream from them, so Dan will be stalked through his apartment by a potential killer after being warned they are there by a desperate voice over the phone, but when the blades come out he is actually cut up from the inside, not so much "the killer's in the house!" as it is "the killer's inside you!" Yet after every one of these apparently, decisively fatal occurences, Dan bounces back, unsteady but intact (mostly) as if he were a computer game character who keeps losing lives, but can use what he has learned for his own benefit to progress further into the conundrum. There were a variety of other faces cropping up, none of them named though names are mentioned - who is Laura? A reference to the Otto Preminger film noir favourite? - as the director's eye for a captivating view pays dividends to the overall look, if not the lack of a proper narrative. What does the title mean, anyway? L'étrange couleur des larmes de ton corps as it was originally, appears from the last shot to indicate menstruation!
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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