There's Always Room for Giallo
The Strange Colours of Your Body's Tears
written and directed by Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani
This film's title, with its echoes of Rainer Werner Fassbinder in his heyday, is certainly
evocative of something a certain sort of someone is sure to want to see. The blurb in the festival guide was expertly targeted at
a specific audience of fanatics, promising a "gorgeous and lurid homage to masters of classic Italian giallo horror."
The co-director, Bruno Forenzi, prefaced the screening with succinct, intriguing remarks to the effect that the film had been
11 years in the making, that he'd been "burned" by it and that he hoped we'd be burned too! "Ha ha" was the rejoinder from
this hopeful attendee. But as the fitful, awkward credits rolled, featuring a particularly inept, hobbling use of stop motion that
just wasn't coming off at all, I realized that this movie might already have set a record of sorts. Virtually before it had even
begun, it turned out to be one of those films that gets you thinking, "Lord, I hope the rest of this isn't more of the same."
First of all, setting a film in an art nouveau apartment building does not
automatically do honor to the masters of giallo, particularly when a film is utterly humorless, aside from one damned
line. Bringing up the rear of a sequence, which, due to film's nowhere differentiable, everywhere discontinuous surface, had
left us all pretty much oblivious to the fact that we were watching the development of a story within a story, the main character
行 this man with a missing Mrs. 行 asks, "What has that got to do with my wife?" One could but hope that this single instance of
a smattering of laughter from the audience was something the filmmakers had been aiming for. Given the unrelieved deadly
seriousness of the rest of what I saw, one wouldn't bet on it. Regardless, this throwaway line was an oasis of sorts, the sole opportunity
for the unfortunate souls sitting through the film to be if just for a moment distracted from what was really nothing more than a colossal
calvacade of short cuts, rack focusing, garish color manipulation, manual and chemical abuse of the film stock 行 simulated digitally these
days, of course 行 of slow-mo, fast-mo, stop mo, reverse mo, kaleidoscopic effects, split screens within mo' split screen etc., etc. In short,
it was the only relief from the sort of tedium that takes years and years of post to achieve, when the editing process devolves into an exercise
in throwing the encyclopedia of special effects at a mountain of footage in order to render it something well nigh unwatchable for more than a few minutes.
But I suppose this was the filmmakers' intention. I mean, you don't make
a movie like this by accident, not with the labor involved. I recall someone in "the biz" once saying in an interview,
"Nobody sets out to make a bad film." Well, I would beg to differ, and anyone conversant in the history of independent
cinema could cite examples. The Strange Colours of Your Body's Tears would more aptly have been described as
an homage to the worst of Film Forum or perhaps to the shades of forgotten works from the Anthology Film Archives.
On the plus side the film's score is rather an attractive one, with
diverse orchestral textures featuring what the avant-garde playbook terms
"extended techniques": a post-modernist's delight, dripping camp. In sum, the score, at least, was an homage to those from various films of the masters of giallo.
行 Chris Maher