The Strange Color of your Body’s Tears (Cattet and Forzani, 2013)

Since watching Helene Cattet’s and Bruno Forzani’s Giallo-homage Amer a few years back I’ve been excited to see their follow-up. The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears (which, I assume, is red), is not only an awesome, Italian slasher-like title, it’s also a really expressive exercise in tribute, style, foley, and editing.

This is the type of film that you don’t watch for the plot. At least, I didn’t. It’s ostensibly got one – Dan Kristensen (Klaus Tange) finds that his wife has gone missing. He calls an investigator who’s a bit of a shadeball himself, and then we spend most of the remaining film partially trying to solve a crime, but more noticeably being awed by technique and following digressive flashbacks (which I loved, and actually found myself wishing there were more of. I mean, plot goes out the window pretty early here, so why not just meander a bit more?), sometimes to no end.

It’d be hard for me to argue with anyone who doesn’t like The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears. After all, there are plenty of highly stylized films that I don’t like, citing shallowness and emptiness of plot, theme, etc. But Cattet and Forzani’s film is just so inventive, sounds so great, and scratches that Giallo itch that I get several times a year just hard enough that it’s pretty brilliant.

Here’s one of many sequences that could illuminate some of the aesthetics at work. As Dan – a frustratingly unsympathetic protagonist if there ever was one – tries to figure out his course of action, the directors cut to a close-up of a psychedelic record spinning:

Screen shot 2014-12-10 at 11.20.52 AM

Then to a series of extreme close-ups (their trademark), always returning to the same close-up of Dan. Ice in a whiskey glass, back to Dan:

Screen shot 2014-12-10 at 11.21.10 AM Screen shot 2014-12-10 at 11.21.20 AMScreen shot 2014-12-10 at 11.21.32 AM

Match strike, back to Dan:

Screen shot 2014-12-10 at 11.21.44 AM Screen shot 2014-12-10 at 11.21.55 AM

ECU of the cigarette burning, ECU of the record spinning:

Screen shot 2014-12-10 at 11.22.04 AM Screen shot 2014-12-10 at 11.22.11 AM

ECU of the matchbook on the table, back to Dan:

Screen shot 2014-12-10 at 11.22.19 AM Screen shot 2014-12-10 at 11.22.25 AM

Not only is this rhythm repeated throughout the film, but it’s used as regularly as another film might use shot-reverse shot. The cinematography is moody and brilliant. Very pretty stuff. I wish that these stills could talk about the foley, but god is the sound fantastic. My favorite sound design of the year, just for the sheer fun it must’ve been to create.

There’s a Mucha ceiling-

Screen shot 2014-12-10 at 11.31.24 AM

-plenty of color tinting (and voyeurism, and stark framing)-

Screen shot 2014-12-10 at 11.31.37 AM Screen shot 2014-12-10 at 11.31.48 AM Screen shot 2014-12-10 at 11.32.34 AM

-split-screens that take the place of editing:

Screen shot 2014-12-10 at 11.35.19 AM

Then there are sequences like this, which again, still images don’t do justice. It’s black and white photographs, made into a stop-motion sequence. But that’s not all, there’s a stalker (obligatory black leather gloves and all) hanging from the ceiling-

Screen shot 2014-12-10 at 11.33.20 AM Screen shot 2014-12-10 at 11.33.45 AM

-and maybe the best sequence of all, a chase scene that takes place behind wallpaper:

Screen shot 2014-12-10 at 11.34.01 AM Screen shot 2014-12-10 at 11.34.12 AM Screen shot 2014-12-10 at 11.34.26 AM Screen shot 2014-12-10 at 11.34.34 AM Screen shot 2014-12-10 at 11.34.49 AM

This film is cut quickly and beautifully. Bernard Beets also cut Amer and the man deserves more work! And Olivier Thys’ (whose credits also include Bullhead and JCVD) foley is a treat.

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About dcpfilm

Shooting, teaching, writing and watching the Phillies.
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5 Responses to The Strange Color of your Body’s Tears (Cattet and Forzani, 2013)

  1. Douglas Freshness says:

    Definitely gonna check this one out. Nice review. Your description of the protagonist reminded me of the main character in Child of God, which I thought was really good.

  2. John Charet says:

    Some really interesting films you are talking about. I have got to see them as well:)

  3. Pingback: Best Films of 2014 | dcpfilm

  4. Pingback: Philly Film Festival 2016 | dcpfilm

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