You know that scene in Tenebre where the camera keeps flying back and forth across the roof of the apartment building that seems to break the film’s narrative or the moment in Opera where the bullet explodes out of the hole in the door? Argento is the master of these set pieces yet — for a while at least — he was able to make them work within his plot instead of being style over subtance.
For anyone that wanted all the style and very little substance — is it even worth saying that a giallo story makes no sense when that feels like one of the most essential parts of the form — may I recommend the Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani (Amer, Let the Corpses Tan) film The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears. If you want a narrative film that tells a story, you will hate this will all your heart. But if you want to go on a kaliedoscopic ride, well, this one has plenty of visual horsepower.
If you need a thread to hold on to, Dan (Klaus Tange) is the protagonist, a man who comes home to find his wife missing. His journey to find her takes him through the dwellers in his apartment complex, who all have their own stories to tell.
Look, it’s a gorgeous movie with a missing woman named Edwige, an awesome poster, an even better title and music from movies like All the Colors of the Dark, Torso, Eyeball, So Sweet…So Perverse, The Black Belly of the Tarantula, Short Night of Glass Dolls, Maddalena and The Violation of Emanuelle. So by all rights, I should love this. It’s like watching a supercut of out there moments and feels like it would be perfect to put on at a party where people don’t get offended by knives coming out of sexualized wounds (I mean, I’ve never been to this kind of party, but I figure they exist and people wear paper dresses and Ivan Rassimov shows up looking all sinister).
Yet it all kind of leaves me cold. The films of the past that this references, while strange to our American eyes, still had a beating heart. This feels like a cool move from set piece to set piece. And while I can’t say that I didn’t like it, it’s not going to knock The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh or The Fifth Cord out of my blu ray player.
For another view on this film, check out Dianna Koch’s Giallo of the Month Club.