The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears (London Film Festival 2013)
Well, I enjoy a giallo as much as the next emotionally dead film reviewer, but The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears is one only for the die-hards – and even then, only on a big screen with loud speakers.
The directorial team of Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani don’t stray too far from the template already established with Amer. Their style pays tribute to 1960s Italian giallos, while cutting out the pulpy murder mystery dialogue scenes – to put it mildly. Oh, they also amp up the gore and on-screen effects with blinding imagery, creating a distinctly modern tribute. In a way it reminds me of a horror compilation one might find on YouTube.
While Amer didn’t have a plot (okay, technically it did...), The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears has a somewhat tenuous narrative involving missing spouses, secretive neighbours and blood dripping from the ceiling.
However, it’s unlikely anyone will follow the story (which is mostly free of dialogue anyway) as the film focuses on assaulting the senses with abrasive colours, quick cuts, flying blood, piercing sound effects, abrupt pacing changes, juxtapositional animation, and a start-stop soundtrack that crescendos into a violent cacophony which has the cinema seats vibrating.
It sounds thrilling, and sort of is, for maybe 20 minutes. As a bold experiment in substance over style (especially considering that criticism often applies to traditional giallos), the viewing experience turns into a trial of endurance, especially with on-screen Freudian imagery torturously repeating itself; there are more penis-shaped knives and boxes symbolising vaginas than completed sentences.
Ultimately, it’s exhausting and short on ideas. The filmmakers could in future follow the example of Dario Argento and Sergio Martino by adapting existing novels, but that would defeat their aggressive shock aesthetic, where a nightmare is stretched by the width of the frame, scraping at the sides with fingernails. I liken it to a continuous loop at an art gallery – you lose yourself in the colours and sounds, and then you’re ready to move on and never return.
The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears is part of the London Film Festival’s “Cult” strand. Screening information can be found here.
102 mins approx
Hélène Cattet, Bruno Forzani