THE STRANGE COLOR OF YOUR BODY’S TEARS (2014, Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani)
A head wound that looks like a vagina. Trickling blood dripping down from a hole in the wall. Phallic knife blades. Eyes. Freeze frames. Silence. Creaking wooden doors. An erect nipple. Cascading hair down a woman’s back. A drill in the ceiling. A voice. Red. Black. Green. Black. Red. White. Footsteps. Latex gloves. More blood.
Your typical Cattet/Forzani film is going to be like that — sights, sounds, dazzling style, loaded imagery, sex & violence intertwined, and a jumble of ideas. Their 2009 film AMER was a masterpiece of virtually dialogue-free cinematic viscera, a giallo homage that sweated life through every frame. And while it wasn’t perfect, at least it was controlled — STRANGE COLOR’s biggest flaw is that it has 5 times the number of ideas that AMER had, and tosses them all in a blender, spitting the juice out onto the screen. If you don’t like one digression, don’t worry — they’ll change it up in ten minutes. They make fun of their own apathy towards narrative early on, when the protagonist (a man who’s wife has mysteriously gone missing) asks a detective, who has just relayed a beautifully imagined anecdote, “What does this have to do with my wife?” Another bravura sequence involves suspense around a ceiling hole and what we can’t see but can slightly hear through it. And yet another is reminiscent of Chris Marker’s LA JETEE with its black-and-white photo montage.
I’m sure if I spent some time I could really figure out what exactly is going on here, but I do think the content is beside the point. This is work of formal dexterity, and while it can be frustrating, jumbled, and haphazard, there’s so much energy, sensuous sound design, and striking photography (not to mention super-cool ’70s music) that I once again tip my hat to two of the weirdest and most ambitious filmmakers around.