Fairly arresting feature debut for writer-helmer Roberto Garzelli.

A two-hander romantic drama that might have come from the mind of David Cronenberg, circa “Dead Ringers,” “The Sentiment of the Flesh” reps a small but confident, fairly arresting feature debut for writer-helmer Roberto Garzelli. Story of two young medicos whose interest in the body takes unhealthy turns could attract some niche DVD and arthouse exposure following fest travel that may encompass adventuresome horror showcases.

Helena (Annabelle Hettmann) is studying medical illustration, and her fascination with anatomy extends to a rather strange enthusiasm for finding potential flaws or ailments in her own physiognomy, inside and out. Getting some unnecessary X-rays, she attracts the interest of young radiologist/lecturer Benoit (Thibault Vincon). Soon they’re happily cohabiting. But her need to keep pushing the boundaries of physical exploration both erotic and clinical awakens something in Benoit that he finds both exciting and dangerous. While one can see it coming almost inevitably, the film’s queasy climactic scene provoked a small flood of walkouts at the Montreal screening attended. Perfs and package are precisely tuned, with production design amplifying the antiseptic minimalism of hospital interiors.

The Sentiment of the Flesh

France

Production

A Stella Films production in association with Centre National de la Cinematographique, Canal Plus, Cinecinema. (International sales: Colifilms Diffusion, Paris.) Produced by Stella Films. Directed, written by Roberto Garzelli.

Crew

Camera (color, Super 16-to-35), Nicolas Guicheteau; editor, Laurence Briaud; music, Cyril Morin; production designer, Arnaud Roth. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival (First Films, competing), Aug. 28, 2010. Running time: 91 MIN.

With

Annabelle Hettmann, Thibault Vincon, Pascal Nzonzi, Emmanuel Salinger, Claudia Tagro, Pierre Moure.

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more