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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears review: the color of nasty

The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears red light

A teeth-grindingly, blood-boilingly infuriating cinematic trial that’s like an art school film project gone horribly awry.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): not a fan of experimental film

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

A man arrives home from a business trip to discover his wife missing yet the door to their apartment chained from the inside. That’s about as coherent a moment to be found in this teeth-grindingly, blood-boilingly infuriating cinematic trial. As Dan (the Willem Dafoe-esque Klaus Tange: A Royal Affair) explores the gothic Art Nouveau building he and his wife live in, seeking clues to her disappearance — from the likes of the Miss Havisham up on the seventh floor, who tells a tale of her husband vanishing within the structure as well — we are “treated” to a phantasmagorical nightmare that’s like an art school film project gone horribly awry. The mishmash of nonsensical, garish imagery features lots of sexualized violence against women, including recurrences of a huge knife artistically — in black-and-white! — slashing across a woman’s nipple and closeups on stab wounds to the tops of human heads that look like vulvas; the writer-director team of Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani clearly believe this is very clever. The final image, the film’s Rosebud moment, is so risible that I laughed out loud, and confirmed my suspicion that what the film believes itself to be exploring in oh-so grandiloquent a manner is men’s supposed utter traumatization by women: by their bodies, by the fluids that come out of their bodies, by their sexuality, by their very taunting existence. Nothing here is supposed to be rational, however, so let’s be irrational about it: Fuck this nasty shit.

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The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears (2014)
US/Can release: Aug 29 2014
UK/Ire release: Apr 11 2014

MPAA: not rated
BBFC: rated 18 (contains strong bloody violence and strong nudity)

viewed in 2D
viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, please reconsider.

  • RogerBW

    It’s all very well to say “it’s an exercise in style, it doesn’t have to make sense”, but when does incoherence change a film from a mood-setter into just a sequence of clips?

  • rondy_sam

    Disclaimer: Question contains spoilers.

    In the end when Dan walks into room 7, does he see the younger version of himself when he first met that old woman who he broke up with? And does the same happen to the other 3 men? And the final image, what made you laugh?

  • I can’t remember the details about Dan and Room 7. Sorry.

    The final image suggests utter traumatization when a boy discovers that women menstruate. You don’t find that completely risible?

  • Asimovlives

    Review complely off the mark. More proof that Maryann lost her edge.

  • Asimovlives

    I have sene the movie twice and the more you see it the more makes sense. It’s the way th story is tod so elyptically that confuses the watcher. And i say so because it happened to me on first viewing. I’m sure if i watch it some more, it will gradually lose it’s “incoherent confusing” feel it causes from first viewing.

  • Asimovlives

    That was not room 7, it’s the hidden room L, L for Laura, where the psyhco killer had his secret hidden throphy room.
    Room 7 is actually Apartment 7, where the sexy girl lived. The mistaking of L for 7 is one of the film’s red herrings.

  • Asimovlives

    It’s not traumatization, silly. The kid had his first sexual wakening at the same time he saw the girl he was inflatuated having her first menstruation. It’s quite clear the movie implies that the psycho killer equates blood letting with sex. Sex is blood and blood is sex.

  • bronxbee

    seems to me that if you have to watch a movie more than once for it to make any sense, then the only sense it makes is whatever the viewer projects onto it. and what is your “proof” that MaryAnn has lost her “edge” (whatever that may be?) the fact that you get from a strange and disjointed movie that sex = blood?

  • Your condescension and general abusive tone is not appreciated. If you are unable to play nice here, please go away.

  • Citation needed.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Look who’s back!

    Y’know, AL, everytime you say something rude, I hear Mike Giacchino playing in my head.

  • Hedwig

    For a “philosopher” this review comes of like a bit lazy non-thinking. I can understand the giallo style is not everybody’s cup of tea, which still does not invalidate it. Plenty of people like it, and as a cultural style it’s been widely used over and above cheap, cult movies. The makers of this film use the style in a very sophisticated filmic manner to tell their story. On top of that the movie is absolutely coherent in its storytelling.
    Trivialising sexual traumatisation by either men or women does not make a great empathy case for the reviewer. People get traumatised in all manners sexually, small and large. In fact denying that something like this exists raises a rather heavy suspicion we all have something to hide. This might apply both to the subject of the movie and the eye of the beholder/reviewer.

  • Who’s trivializing sexual traumatization? Not me. Suggesting that a man’s awareness of the fact that women menstruate is sexually traumatizing — as this movie does — is ludicrous, though. And it trivializes true trauma.

  • Hedwig

    As stated, traumatization, can have small or big origins (and small or big consequences). What constitutes a trauma is not really the task of a movie review. Plenty of people faint at the mere sight of blood….
    To use this as an argument for grading the movie “fuck this nasty piece of shit” seems way off.
    In another comment you made, you chide someone for not playing nice….I think by comparison we are being rather polite to you.

  • What constitutes a trauma is not really the task of a movie review.

    When it is the task of a movie, it is most certainly the task of a review of that movie.

    To use this as an argument for grading the movie “fuck this nasty piece of shit” seems way off.

    Not to me it isn’t.

    I think by comparison we are being rather polite to you.

    Polite to people? Sure, that’s a good thing. Polite to a movie? No way.

  • Hedwig

    aah, but did this movie (or any giallo/ thriller/ genre movie either as exploitation film or as artistic expression) pretend to be a “realistic documentary about trauma’s”? Surely not.
    If anything (apart from the stylistic investigation of film language) it’s more concerned about the way a fractured mind works in concealing it’s own thought processes from the inside. And in doing so it used very ingenious visual and aural elements, which I found very admirable.
    As a reviewer/critic to label some very talented people’s creative expression “as a nasty piece of shit” I find insulting and disrespectful.
    This lack of empathy towards creative people and apparent superiority viewpoint is what makes a lot reviews sound quite bitter.

  • It can absolutely be traumatizing for a child to witness menstruation if they don’t understand it because they will believe the menstruating woman is physically injured. I’ve heard plenty of stories about little girls who got their first periods before anyone had explained menstruation to them and they panicked because they thought they were suddenly bleeding from an injury.

    I think the movie is more complicated than just being traumatized by witnessing menstruation though. I think the message is feminist, though I could be projecting. It seems that the male characters are struggling with psychologically conflating sex and violence. Their feelings of lust are mixed up with feelings of hate and fear and aggression.

    Female characters resist this, and they especially resist being controlled, which the male characters seem to experience as an act of aggression against them. I was especially intrigued by the scene where the woman was being chased by the crazed killer, but then she starts to masturbate and her masturbation creates an army that kills her attacker. By taking control of her own sexuality, she fought back against those who would control her.

  • It can absolutely be traumatizing for a child to witness menstruation

    And then you grow up. We’re not talking about a child here.

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