Cinema/TV, Film Notes

Film review – Amer

My notes on the Belgian art-giallo Amer.

A Belgian art movie, written and directed by Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani, which obsessively references Italian horror and thriller films: it’s a shame Dario Argento has recently squandered the title Giallo, since it would have done perfectly for this elegant, intricate, highly-wrought psycho-drama.  The central character, Ana, is seen at three stages of her life – little girl, adolescent, adult (Biana Maria D’Amato, Marie Bos, Charlotte Eugene Guibeaud) – being disturbed in vignettes set at a rambling cliff top villa.  As a child, in Bava-lit terror, she breaks a rosary free from the fingers of her dead, rotting grandfather as her mother has an affair and a veiled, ambiguous figure lurks.  As a girl, she pouts and makes bored play with the locals – and gets a slap from mama (Cassandra Foret).  As a grown-up, she returns to  the villa and has erotic and sado-masochistic fantasies – black-gloved razor-killer – which end up with her on a morgue slab, perhaps in another fantasy, perhaps as a suicide.  The narrative elements are extremely slight, but style is everything: indeed, it’s a confirmation by inversion of the priorities of gialli, which are usually insanely over-plotted but boil down to sensual, strange or stirring moments based on tiny sensations.


It has the widescreen look of a vintage Edwige Fenech vehicle, and draws inspiration not only from semi-canonical names like Bava and Argento, but also Sergio Martino, Umberto Lenzi and others.  It’s almost dialogue-free, but strong on repeated images: eyes, keys, keyholes, stairs, insects, blades, skin, teeth, hair, gloves, water, glass/ice, wallpaper, sunglasses.  It has grue in the corpse-abuse and an extreme close-up razor-slashing of a male passerby – the straight razor between the teeth is especially cringeworthy – but, unlike many critics and fans, realises that there’s much more stalk than slash in the classical form and spends a lot of time getting so close to the protagonist as she walks through her world that a strange fascination is generated even when she’s doing something trivial like sitting on a hot car seat in a short dress or outstaring a football-playing younger boy.  It makes its points, but also retains its mysteries.


One thought on “Film review – Amer

  1. Chris Cooke I loved this film but it’s truly beautiful and the score is something Tarantino would love in it’s collaging of others great scores – and there’s a strain of Tinto Brass in there too…

    Michael Brooke I was lucky enough to see this on the big screen, which it really demands – paradoxically, because so much of it is made up of ultra-extreme close-ups. It’s not the sort of film I was minded to think too much about, but as an experience it’s really quite something.

    Chris Cooke Yeah – it’s a great experience – lush, intense, overpowering… loved it… one of the best of the year so far…

    Billy Houlston great review, kim…

    Posted by kimnewman | July 10, 2018, 11:14 am

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