The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears is a sensory explosion of psycho-sexual fears and desires, one that transports the viewer into a realm of dark sexual power caught in the whirling frenzy of the sheer visual fluidity and baroque detail on display. Following his return from a trip to Germany, Dan Kristensen (played by Klaus Tange)discovers his apartment locked from the inside…but his wife missing, with no trace or explanation. Desperate to discover her, Dan begins to search through their apartment building for any clues or witnesses; however, as he searches, the space around him begins to change as he encounters individuals who enclose tales of sexual depravity, murder and mystery, all haunted by these experiences and the ghost of desire. Soon, Dan’s own darkest desires and nightmares begin to overwhelm him, as he questions the true fate of his wife and the fate that waits at the end of his odyssey.

The film is a labyrinth, both in terms of its visual construction and the motion of the narrative, constantly shifting and mutating as Kristensen’s fears and fetishes meld with the characters he encounters, each haunted by the spectre of sexual awakening and the female form as the other, a monstrous presence in which male subjectivity is absorbed and destroyed by the trauma of female desire, the space where sex and death coalesce into beauty and horror. In taking an almost episodic structure that feeds back into an overarching narrative, the filmmakers are able to create a mosaic of experiences with sex and death at their core. These disparate nightmares ultimately lead to a singular space, where the horror of female sexuality, in all its complexity, and in all its converse dimensions becomes unknowable, ungraspable, and as metaphorically hidden as Dan’s wife is literally absent. In this play of mazes, it is the riddle of woman that the real nightmare revolves, closing around all the men, revealing their failure to catch up to female desire and leaving them impotent and destroyed by the sheer furious power of female sexuality.

As in their previous film, Amer, the experimental visual and aural stylisation seems to be the perfect expression of the central traumatic contrast of pleasure and pain; tender touch and jarring brutality, a horrific open wound and the female vagina. It is an experience all too rare in modern cinema to experience something as beautiful and visceral as the cinema of Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani. In particular the sound design and specific soundtrack choices are peerless in reinforcing the style, tone and effect of the entire experience. Using iconic themes from the giallo cinema of the 1970s as an act of homage to the cinema that influences them so greatly is a perfect act of reference, but what makes Cattet and Forzani’s application of these twisted sounds so impressive and remarkable are the new dimensions given to these pieces in combination with the on screen imagery to create a symmetry that is powerful and enhances the sensory delirium. The use of Alessandro Alessandroni’s fourth track from the iconic Italian nun-spoliation, Suor Omicidi (Killer Nun) as the blaring a compliment to the sequence where Dan frenziedly prowls his apartment like a restless animal, drinking whisky and shouting incoherently, the beginning of his slide into the realms of depraved sexual enigmas, is a startling choice that is so intensely evocative that it crawls under your skin, deep into your nervous system and slithers like a snake within.

The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears is a beautiful nightmare. The perfect partner to their previous masterpiece, Amer, and in many ways, it’s superior as Cattet and Forzani extent their cinematic vision further, illustrating the depths of their stylistic confidence and their own personal vision of the enigma of sexuality and the inevitable outpouring of violence that results of that most explosive, incomprehensible trauma.

VERDICT: [rating=5]

About The Author

Matthew Hammond is a full time cinephile, specializing in cult, art house and 1980’s cinema. While film is his overwhelming passion, Matthew has been known to enjoy comic books, Sherlock Holmes stories and a good film related T-shirt. Feel free to email me with any questions or comments: mattpaul61@o2.co.uk