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Locarno Film Review: ‘The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears’

This blood-spattered pseudo-Freudian nonsense is suitable only for the most avid giallo groupies.

With:
Klaus Tange, Jean-Michel Vovk, Sylvia Camarda, Sam Louwyck, Anna D’Annunzio, Manon Beuchot, Ursula Bedena, Birgit Yew, Hans de Munter. (French, Danish, Flemish dialogue)

When does an exercise in style become a wearying ADD slog through blood-splattered pseudo-Freudian nonsense? When it’s “The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears.” Helmer-scripters Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani (“Amer”) once again plunge viewers into giallo territory with a confused story regarding disappearances, people behind walls, and gaping head-wounds resembling vaginas, edited to within an inch of its life and suitable only for die-hard Fangoria readers and other devotees of ersatz 1970s Italo schlock. Frenzied consumption by the genre’s most avid groupies awaits (Metrodome nabbed U.K. rights following the Cannes market screening); others will ankle.

When Dan (Denmark’s Klaus Tange) comes home to Brussels following a business trip, he finds wife Edwige (Ursula Bedena) missing and the door chained from the inside. Looking for someone who can explain what happened, he meets older neighbor Dora (Birgit Yew) on the seventh floor, dressed in black lace and fetish boots. Sometime earlier her husband disappeared through a hole he made in the ceiling; could the two be together? What’s moving behind the wallpaper? Who’s the mystery woman in the red hood?

Rather than worrying too much about the answers, those sticking around will have more productive thoughts imagining what they could do with the fabulous art-nouveau spaces Cattet and Forzani lucked into using. It’s certainly more rewarding than trying to make sense of the ultimately offensive way the pic wallows in fear of murderous female pudenda. Unsurprisingly, there are copious amounts of blood, repeated slashings with sharp instruments, and loving images of broken glass ground into naked flesh. Stuttered black-and-white pictures of a knife caressing a woman’s nipple are presumably meant as mood enhancers, though the same can be said for practically every frame onscreen since the plot is too baroque to follow.

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No shot lasts more than a few seconds, making “Strange Color” even more of an endurance test. As with “Amer,” the helmers indulge in lurid colors and split screens as well as kaleidoscopic images meant to hark back to the gialli whence it came. As if the antecedents weren’t already clear, they clog up the soundscape with Ennio Morricone tunes and other musical snippets from lurid genre pics of the era. Helmer Peter Strickland (“Berberian Sound Studio”) is credited as voicing one of the screams.

Locarno Film Review: 'The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears'

Reviewed at Locarno Film Festival (competing), Aug. 11, 2013. (Also in Toronto Film Festival — Vanguard.) Running time: 101 MIN. Original title: "L’etrange couleur des larmes de ton corps"

Production:

(Belgium-France-Luxembourg) A Numero Zero (in Belgium)/Shellac (in France) release of an Anonymes Films, Tobina Film, Epidemic, Red Lion, Mollywood production, with the participation of Canal Plus, Cine Plus, BeTV, Belgacom, in association with Indefilms. (International sales: Bac Films, Paris.) Produced by Eve Commenge, Francois Cognard. Co-producers, Eurydice Gysel, Koen Mortier, Pol Cruchten, Jeanne Geiben.

Crew:

Directed, written by Helene Cattet, Bruno Forzani. Camera (color/B&W), Manu Dacosse; editor, Bernard Beets; production designer, Julia Irribarria; costume designer, Jackye Fauconnier; sound (Dolby Digital), Dan Bruylandt, Yves Bemelmans, Mathieu Cox.

With:

Klaus Tange, Jean-Michel Vovk, Sylvia Camarda, Sam Louwyck, Anna D’Annunzio, Manon Beuchot, Ursula Bedena, Birgit Yew, Hans de Munter. (French, Danish, Flemish dialogue)

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