Knife+Heart (4 stars)


This ode to the giallo genre from French director Yann Gonzalez combines fun, frights and social commentary

A campy, colourful slasher set in the gay porn industry of late 1970s Paris, Knife+Heart is almost as fun to describe as it is to watch. In this Gallic ode to the giallo genre from Yann Gonzalez (You and the Night), blue movie producer Anne Parèze (Vanessa Paradis) investigates the mysterious man brutally killing her actors, whilst simultaneously reeling from a break-up with her long-term girlfriend and editor, Loïs (Kate Moran). An arresting sight in her tricolore wardrobe of atomic blonde hair, red boots, and electric-blue eyeshadow, Anne is determined to impress Loïs creatively, and uses the investigation as inspiration for her new film, 'Homocidal'.

Although the early murder scenes set a dark tone, there's a persistent playfulness, notably in a daytime forest sequence with comical music cues that alert viewers to advancing danger as the camera repeatedly spins 360°. Elsewhere, actors shoot a 'Homocidal' scene involving hilariously inappropriate typewriter usage.

The film features a strikingly tender, jubilant portrayal of a queer community, as exemplified in a scene where the troupe have a picnic. With the spectre of death haunting them, and the authorities unmotivated to be of substantial help, it's not hard to find parallels with the AIDS crisis to come, while the killer's story offers more nuance than one might expect, incorporating commentary on queer sexual repression – and oppression.

If the narrative falters somewhat in the third act, the biggest misstep is a tonal one, with a character's attempted rape muddying what is otherwise presented as a melancholic yet love-filled relationship. While the film quickly moves on, it won't be so easy for some viewers to ignore.

Available to stream on MUBI and on limited release from Fri 5 Jul.

Knife + Heart

  • 4 stars
  • 2018
  • France / Mexico / Switzerland
  • 1h 50min
  • Directed by: Yann Gonzalez
  • Cast: Vanessa Paradis, Kate Moran, Nicolas Maury
  • UK release: 12 October 2018

Anne (Paradis) is a blue movie producer investigating the mysterious man killing her actors, while at the same time reeling from a breakup with her longterm girlfriend and editor Lois (Moran). A strikingly tender, jubilant portrayal of a queer community in the late 70s, although a tonal misstep in the third act may be…