Directors: Hélène Cattet, Bruno Forzani
Writers: Bruno Forzani, Hélène Cattet
Stars: Klaus Tange, Ursula Bedena, Joe Koener
The Strange Color of Your Bodies Tears is Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani’s 2013 follow up to the critically acclaimed Amer, their visually sumptuous 2009 love-letter to the giallo genre. Amer was a largely plotless film which was more interested in recreating and embellishing upon the stock images and ambiance of 1970s Italian cinema than telling a story. The Strange Color of Your Bodies Tears carries on in much the same vein; so much so, in fact, that if seen in close succession the two films blur into one undoubtedly pretty but but entirely amorphous whole.
The plot, such as it is, borrows from the likes of What Are Those Strange Drops of Blood on the Body of Jennifer?, The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh and The Perfume of the Lady in Black (yes, the giveaway is in the title), as well as the better known work of Dario Argento. Dan (Klaus Tange) – who works in ‘telecommunications’, as he repeatedly states – returns home from a business trip abroad to discover that his wife has gone missing. Could it be that one of the assorted oddballs who lives in his fashionably art nouveau apartment block could be responsible? Or is it the building itself which holds the secret to her disappearance.
That’s about it as far as plotting goes: in terms of narrative, it doesn’t really go anywhere, and wherever it does go it goes there extremely slowly. There are momentary anecdotes which have a bit more structure – a doctor who becomes obsessed with the sounds coming from the apartment above, a voyeur who watches everything that the tenants do through a network of secret cameras – but much of the running time is is given over to Dan’s investigations of the house, his gradual mental disintegration and, well, just general weird sh*t.
There’s absolutely no doubt that it’s assembled with expertise and looks a million dollars with it’s array of colored filters, interesting cinematography, eye-catching sets and painterly framing, all of which are accompanied by a selection of familiar compositions from the likes of Ennio Morricone and Bruno Nicolai. But that’s part of the problem: the production as a whole plays like it belongs in an art installation rather than in a cinema. Unfortunately, the circuitous and stilted story means that as a film – rather than a work of art – it’s something of a trial, far more so than the not dissimilar works of Peter Strickland, who seems more astute in his blending of homage, experimentation and accessibility [confession time: I dropped off during both Amer and The Strange Colour of Your Bodies Tears, and I can stay awake through the most tedious and crapulent of productions]. Cattet and Forzani undoubtedly have talent, but they could possibly benefit from working with more structured source material and also possibly trying something a little different [note: it will be interesting to see how their new film, Laissez bronzer les cadavres!, based on a novel by Jean-Pierre Bastid and Jean-Patrick Manchette, turns out].