The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears (3 stars)

The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears

A maximalist, bewildering giallo horror in the vein of Dario Argento

A maximalist, bewildering horror in the overflowing vein of Dario Argento, The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears is part of Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani's determined attempt to pump new blood into the giallo genre (following 2009's Amer and the segment 'O is for Orgasm' from 2012 horror anthology The ABCs of Death). Dan (Klaus Tange) returns home from a business trip to discover a bona fide locked room mystery: his apartment is locked from the inside, but his wife is nowhere to be found.

While Cattet and Forzani might be expected to wrong-foot the audience in order to better convey Dan's fear and confusion, what follows is a maximalist onslaught of cinematic technique. Lighting ranges from the eye-searingly bright to pitch black (one character is lit so they appear as a disembodied pair of legs), while stuttering black and white vignettes puncture the narrative with extreme close-ups of knives grazing over nipples. Dan lives in an aggressively opulent art nouveau apartment building, which leads to some blunt visual metaphors – one placid, painted figure's head is drilled through to reveal a panicked eye on the other side.

All of which might seem overblown were it not matched by the plot, a twisted nightmare of sex, death, doppelgangers, deja vu, Freudian trauma, hallucinations and dreams within dreams within dreams. Cattet and Forzani's approach is a little too exhausting to be completely enjoyable, but they deserve credit for managing to marshal some sense of narrative resolution by the end, when they might have just left the audience floundering in oblivion. Their treatment and portrayal of female characters is also questionable, although arguably in keeping with the giallo traditions they're trying to uphold.

Reviewed at Glasgow Film Festival 2014. On selected release from Fri 11 Apr.

The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears

  • 3 stars
  • 2013
  • Belguim
  • 1h 42min
  • 18
  • Directed by: Hélène Cattet, Bruno Forzani
  • Cast: Klaus Tange, Ursula Bedena, Joe Koener
  • UK release: 11 April 2014

Dan (Tange) comes home from a business trip to find his apartment locked from the inside and his wife missing. Maximalist, bewildering horror film full of sex, death, doppelgangers, déjà vu, Freudian trauma and multiply-nested dreams, which nevertheless manages to achieve some kind of narrative resolution.