The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears Movie Review
Written by Hamzah Sarwar
DVD released by Metrodome Distribution
Written and directed by Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani
2013, 102 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on 23rd June 2014
Klaus Tange as Dan Kristensen
Hans de Munter
The French husband-wife directorial duo Bruno Forzani and Hélène Cattet are a pair of genre filmmakers that are refreshingly radical. They seduced us with their lurid, erotically charged thriller Amer (2009), a highly evocative mood piece observed through the rose tinted lenses of a vulnerable woman on a nightmarish voyage of sexual discovery. Amer transpired as a three-pronged, multi-layered neo-Giallo that was both bold and uninhibited in its creativity. Post Amer, the pair's segment 'O for Orgasm' in the ABCs of Death (2012) illustrated a degree of craftsmanship in an otherwise (largely) unremarkable anthology.
The latest bullet in the chamber of their fledgling filmography is the arrestingly titled Belgian production The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears (L'étrange couleur des larmes de ton corps). It is a highly experimental psycho-horror that would be reminiscent of the bastard child of a flawed Argento-Lynch collaboration and a grungy grindhouse thriller. Forzani and Cattet have created a wildly ambitious interpretation of the hyper-surrealistic elements of the Giallo and caked them in subversive and undeniably sensual metaphors; the memorable stylistic influences are drawn from the richness of 19th century Art Noueveau. It is clear that the directors' have been influenced by the likes of Sergio Martini's first Giallo The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh (1970), an array of Argento classics such as Suspiria (1977) and Phenomena (1985) along with the works of Mario Bava such as The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1963).
Despite drawing inspiration from films benefiting from strong scripting, the wafer thin plot of The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears is complex and hard to digest. It principally concerns the mysterious disappearance of Dan Kristensen's (Klaus) wife, Edwige, from their apartment block during a business trip. Upon Dan's return, he embarks on a frantic search to locate Edwige in their labyrinthine style tower block with the help of a detective and misleading clues from the couple's estranged neighbours. The narrative plays a dutiful passenger as the outlandishly dazzling imagery takes centre stage. This is style over substance in the extreme; a savage blend of visceral violence and sadomasochistic references underpin an unrivalled sensory experience. Every flashing blade can be felt and heard, the sound of each leather glove on skin is deafening. It's as though Forzani and Cattet have channeled and interlaced episodes of our irrational dreams (where space, time and logic don't exist) into a veneered cinematic composite. The art-house connoisseur will be pushed to make sense of the story; it's a film entirely devoid of human connection and one that quite clearly isn't concerned with striking a chord with its viewer. The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears will indefinitely repulse or cast a spell over its viewer in a fashion that only fine art has the ability to.
The intense score is perhaps Forzani and Cattet's crowning legacy, a range of tones are used to create heart-pounding moments of tension and confusion whereas a more solemn string is plucked to excavate sadness. The music builds on a series of hypnotic episodes ranging from the obtuse through to the spellbinding. Take the doppelganger sequence where Dan is seemingly followed by his double through the hellish maze of his intricate apartment, it is disorienting and incredibly invasive. Look out for one of the most remarkable and brutal scenes where the protagonist is seemingly trying to cut out of his own body. Flashes of neon red and green, double screens and spraying of blood make for a wildly disturbing melee of horror.
There is a claustrophobic edge to the film and an underlying fantastical metaphor that is repeatedly referred to (cutting your skin either from the inside or by a mysterious intruder). In a recording from Edwige, it reads 'his adoration is the worst of all gifts, his gaze the worst of all prisons. He can keep my image and get lost in it'. It's this haunting sense of ownership that shackles and perhaps kills their relationship. A shadowy world behind walls is presented where unadulterated excess is sought after and often found through introspection; it's as though self-reflection in death is a form of release. The character of Laura presents a fascinating antithesis, is Laura a figure who Dan is traumatized by since childhood (a motherly presence)? Or is she an embodiment of the free spirit that we all crave and die trying to reach? Although The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears doesn't match the beauty of Amer, it is a tall order to find a more provocative genre film this year.