Wednesday, 7 May 2014



Bruno Forzani and Helene Cattet's previous film, Amer, was a horror/art pastiche in which the loopy mechanics of giallo plotting weren't so much secondary to the impeccable visuals as missing completely. As a mood piece, a stylistic exercise, a recreation of the genre's unique approach to lighting, colour, decor, design and composition, it was great, but it had almost no narrative to take you through the fantastic imagery. Then there was their segment of The ABCs Of Death which was one of the few that wasn't face-punchingly tedious, but still dependent exclusively on style. Sadly their new feature is more of the same: it's undeniably beautiful, with some occasionally shocking moments (and one frankly unnecessary pornographic image) but the lack of any coherent narrative reduces it to little more than a pop video for the Morricone and Nicolai scores of forty years past.

It's all the more frustrating because The Strange Colour Of Your Body's Tears does have the hint of a conventional story, at least to start with. A man returns from a business trip abroad to find his wife has gone missing: his investigations suggest she's not the first person to vanish in that apartment building, and there might be someone living in hidden, unknown rooms between the floors somewhere (shades of Argento's Inferno). But then it all breaks down into bafflement: he appears to be chasing himself around his apartment in a series of dream sequences (or just one?), someone climbs out of a hatbox, there's a naked woman on the roof, an old woman hidden in shadow explains how her husband disappeared.

So as far as a plot or a story is concerned, it's mostly utter nonsense in precisely the way that even the great bonkers Euro horrors never were: Suspiria and The Beyond are wayward to say the least but they do hang together. This is more like Lynch's Mulholland Drive: an intriguing opening setup is abandoned after a while and the film just sits there for the remaining hour or so blowing increasingly loud raspberries at you. Strange Colour's trump card, however, is just how magnificently those raspberries are put on film. Like Amer, pretty much every frame is astonishingly gorgeous: everything is lit, coloured, filtered and composed to perfection: ignore the piffling plot, just drown in the rich visual beauty.

I would have preferred to see this in a cinema, because even though it's unsatisfying and somewhat disappointing as a film it's genuinely, truly ravishing as art and cries out for the scope of a huge screen. Sadly the minimal release pattern (just a handful of prints around the country and gone in a week) made it impractical and its wider availability is now down to streaming, and eventually a DVD. I suppose it's not surprising that multiplex chains don't want to pull a few screenings of the new Captain America to make way for a non-narrative Belgian mood piece, but its a shame nonetheless.


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