Oct 15, 2015
Day 15: THE STRANGE COLOR OF YOUR BODY'S TEARS (2013)
After a business trip, a man returns to his swanky pad only to find his wife has gone missing. As he searches for her, he's drawn into the phantasmagorical world of sex and violence hiding behind the doors and walls of the apartment building.
Sort of. I think?
Writers/directors Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani aren't particularly interested in telling a coherent story or giving you oodles of plot; rather, they've distilled the ideas of the Italian giallo down so much that it's little more than visuals and vibes. (Yes, somehow The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears has less story than your average Argento flick.) Events unfold in an endless array of disorienting angles, stark colors, and odd compositions. While every frame is undeniably a work of art, the assault on your senses becomes too much on occasion–perhaps it's too much of a good thing. The repetition of scenes and shots–even when time isn't literally folding in on itself–might be too much for viewers who wish Cattet and Forzani would just get on with it already.
This lite-on-plot approach means you can assign whatever meaning you want to the film and it works. Maybe it's just about the black-gloved killer lurking in the building. It could be about voyeurism, about the perils of looking in places you weren't meant to see. Or maybe it deals with the pains and pleasures of love and romance.
I found it to be a statement about the fear of women's sexuality, about what happens when women truly take control of their own bodies and sexual agency. One character deals with the banality of married sex by lying still, eyes closed, as her husband silently humps away on top of her. Another discovers what she truly wants and flees. Yet another masturbates her way into mortal danger, and then out of it again as she releases both monsters and protectors. There is a fear of liberation and sexual freedom, and a desire for them. And lawd a-mighty, there are vaginas everywhere. I know, I know–you think I'm being a little too "that song from the Tootsie Roll commercial" about it ("Whatever it is I think I see...becomes a va-gin-a to me!"), but come on now. They're everywhere, from wounds (your body's "tears"–that's \'ters\–indeed) to wallpapers. It is the Where's Waldo of female anatomy. Have a small sample:
As I said, for you, The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears may be something else entirely, and that's what's so remarkable and frustrating about the film. Maybe it means nothing! Maybe it's just a bloodied-up fever dream by way of David Lynch, Dario Argento, and Roman Polanski's The Tenant. There's a sort of...hmm, in the interest of not spoiling it, let's call it a nesting dolls made real sequence that for my money is nothing short of brilliant. It's gruesome and nightmarish and one of the finest scenes in modern horror. Still, this film is absolutely not going to work for everyone, so if you don't have the patience for "arty nonsense" or you enjoy, you know, coherence, then buyer beware. Maybe it is just pretty piffle...but I couldn't take my eyes off of it.