I’d been meaning to check out The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears for a while but every time I got to it in my queue, I breezed right past it. Maybe because the directors’ (Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani) previous feature, Amer, bored me. (i’m just not Euro/pervy enough to really get into the sexual awakening of a teenager. i guess I’m a philistine) Sure, it looked beautiful but it was just too arthouse for my tastes (beauty for beauty’s sake). Maybe it was because it has a runtime of over 90 minutes (again, philistine). Whatever the reason, I waited way too long to watch this film.
The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears doesn’t necessarily have a narrative plot. Not in the traditional sense anyway. It focuses on Dan Kristensen, who has returned to his beautiful apartment to find his gorgeous wife missing. Missing from an apartment – replete with splendid stained glass windows – that was locked from the inside! He spends a surprising amount of time getting drunk and smoking before an inspector shows up to ask him about his wife. This sets the stage for a story about a very strange job that the inspector had in the past. Thus begins the stories within a story format that leads Kristensen from one tenant to another in his weird, labyrinthine apartment building. The vignettes are strange and violent and use giallo imagery heavily. And imagery is ultimately the real focus of the film.
As you may recall, I started this with a complaint about beauty for beauty’s sake. This movie has plenty of that, but the story (stories) that Forzani and Cattet have used as an excuse to present their sumptuous visuals are interesting enough to balance the arthouse with the classic giallo. The visuals are truly incredible. I found myself marveling at the artistry of the production design and the beauty of the cinematography. (so much so, that i looked up beautiful in the thesaurus and found “sumptuous”) The actual narrative(ish) is decent, featuring intrigue and oddity. Oddity to the point of dream logic. And dream logic in film is a tricky beast. Done wrong, it takes the viewer out of the moment, leaving him/her to wonder, “Why the fuck would [X] do [Y]?!” Done right, it spins the viewer’s head just enough. We recognize the confusion that we have all felt in countless dreams throughout our lives. We follow characters into dark places that, were they in possession of their senses, they would never go. And we do it without questioning their motives. The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears walks the fine line between dream logic and narrative contrivance perfectly.
THE FINAL CUT: The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears is a ravishing (thesaurus!) film that doesn’t completely sacrifice story for aesthetics. It is a truly stunning tribute to Italian giallos.