The Italian-born giallo thriller is the perfect embodiment of everything I adore about the cinema. In this world, style reigns supreme. Characteristics include a murder mystery element, brutal violence, dreamlike visuals, and an elaborate soundtrack. The antagonist’s identity (including sex) is concealed by a black hat, gloves and trench coat. That’ll all be revealed in the third act. Iconic giallos include such titles as Blood and Black Lace, Don’t Torture a Duckling, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Deep Red and Tenebre. In 2009, filmmaking duo Hélène Cattet, Bruno Forzani brought us an ode to the genre with the cult favorite, Amer. For their sophomore feature, they’ve returned to this inspiration with The Strange Colour of your Body’s Tears. The title alone is enough to elicit excitement out of long-time fans. I was going into this hoping for a continuation of this revival. Alas, it actually could do the exact opposite.
The Strange Colour of your Body’s Tears is about a husband who comes home to discover that his wife has gone missing. He and detective begin investigating the apartment building only to find out that the place and its residents have their fair share of secrets. The cast look like they were photo-shopped right out of those films. They’re perfectly in tune to the filmmakers’ vision. The cinematography is flat-out gorgeous. Every shot, every lighting scheme has been meticulously devised. The artistry on display is without question. The terrific soundtrack is compiled from other films of that era. It syncs perfectly with the imagery and helps to create the feel of the genre. I also adored the expertly-crafted sound design. It’s every bit as stylized as the visuals themselves. This is A/V craftsmanship of the highest calibre.
On the surface it sounds like vintage giallo but the plot is soon caught up in needless, incoherence (huge understatement). It took me right out of the picture. If you look real hard, you’ll see the workings of a semi-coherent story within all the babble. Worse; there are sequences that go on endlessly with a motif not unlike a music video. The dream within a dream thing will test viewer’s patience like never before. The filmmakers push this so hard to a point where I couldn’t help but to laugh out loud. This breaking point happens during the half way mark and consumed me (and some other folks) for the rest of the duration. It’s been awhile since I couldn’t contain myself during a theatrical screening. Unfortunately this isn’t intentional. I was amused for all the wrong reasons. This is pretentious with a capital P. While I’m more than sure there are audiences who appreciate what The Strange Colour of your Body’s Tears sets out to do, personally I can’t get involved in a mystery where a) I have no idea what the hell is going on and b) I don’t care whatsoever what happens to the characters. All of this seems like a waste to me if I’m not invested in what’s underneath all of the showboating.
If you’ve managed to go through your entire life not viewing a single giallo, this is the last place to start. I’d say avoid like the plague. It would scare off anyone who’d ever had the remote interest of seeing one. It successfully captures the audio/visual beauty of those films and that’s about it. The Strange Colour of your Body’s Tears is an immense disappoint. I have a fondness for art-house pictures but this doesn’t do them any service. It plays out like a parody and contains all the things that give them a bad rap. The Strange Colour of your Body’s Tears is an arrogant, incoherent piece of drivel. Cattet and Forzani are obviously super-talented which makes this nonsense all the more frustrating.