The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears
Written & Directed by Bruno Forzani and Hélène Cattet
The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears is a truly cinematic experience, utilizing all the elements of film to embody complicated feelings and concepts. It is not a simple homage but a mutation where the syntax of giallo serves as the base DNA, but it is a new creation altogether. Centering around a man who comes home to find his wife has disappeared, The Strange Color… delves deep into the cerebellum to locate that place where sexual stimulation and violent urges convene and projects it on to the screen like a flaring synapse. What we see is the expressionistic collage of sight and sound that is intoxicatingly alluring in its mystery and dangerous sensuality.
Directed by the husband and wife team of Bruno Forzani and Hélène Cattet, The Strange Color… isn’t hung up telling a story in a linear way, choosing instead to focus on the senses. How does one show drunkenness? The easiest way is to just have the actor portray the idea of inebriation or even announce his state. Forzani and Cattet however utilize editing, symbolic imagery, and sound to create a feeling of intoxication that the audience can experience. They ask abstract questions and experiment with how to convey the idea to the audiences – not answers, because it’s not about right or wrong. What color is paranoia? Fear? Can it be green? Nevermind why a person would be bathed in such a light, it’s the feeling that counts. Forzani and Cattet clearly have a masterful repository of giallo techniques and tricks, but they repurpose them for something new. It is both challenging and creepy, like Godard for the macabre.
Sanford Meisner, famed acting teacher, told his students that drama boils down to two things fighting or fucking- at least that’s how it was told to me. He’s probably not the first or the last to say as much, but that doesn’t make it less truthful. Regardless, the reason I bring up Meisner is because he also told his students to follow their impulses, which were often impeded because as social humans we have a habit of being polite. The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears, is unapologetically impulsive and doesn’t demure to the middle so as to avoid offending people. It taps into that dangerous place where the conflation of sex and violence can be intriguing or downright erotic. Seeing a knife’s edge flick a hard nipple sounds absolutely horrible, as does two naked bodies grinding broken glass into each other – but the way Cattet and Forzani film express it it’s morbidly sexy. I probably won’t be suggesting those activities to my wife any time in the future (with two kids, such set ups are much too time-consuming to prepare, or – heaven forbid – explain), but I couldn’t deny that the film managed to tap into whatever part of my brain would find that titillating. Ultimately, that’s why films like this should be applauded, because they allow the audience an experience in a safe environment, whether at home or in a cinema, while giving the sensation that you’re going 100 miles per hour, it’s raining, and wouldn’t you know it, the brake lines have been cut.
Forzani and Cattet do not hold your hands, rather they ask ask you to find your own way out of the labyrinth. You may get lost, but whatever you find is yours to keep. For some, this can be incredibly infuriating, and if you’d rather a film just tell you what’s going on at all times so you’re never lost, take heart, for you have so much to choose from. Just google “2014 Oscar nominated films”, and you’ll be on solid ground for an unobtrusive evening. However, if every once in a while you want to tell grandma to shove it and make your way over to the big bad wolf’s house, then The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears requires attention.