DVD - 2011 | French
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Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani's pastiche tour-de-force plays out a delirious, enigmatic, almost wordless death-dance of fear and desire. Its three movements, each in a different style, correspond to the childhood, adolescence, and adulthood of its female protagonist. Drawing its stylized, hyperbolic gestures from the playbooks of Bava, Leone, Argento, and De Palma, it takes them into a realm of near-abstraction.
Publisher: [United States] : Olive Films, c2011
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (90 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in


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Dec 05, 2014

Little Ana lives in a big mansion on the Côte d’Azur along with her overbearing mother and ineffectual father. She also shares an adjoining room with the mysterious shrouded maid Graziella who may be a witch, while her mummified grandfather (who may or may not be dead) resides downstairs. Highly sensitive to the negative vibes in the house, Ana is given to frightening flights of fancy with cursed lockets, haunted bedrooms and an increasingly malevolent Graziella preying on her mind. But she is not prepared for the ultimate shock of accidentally walking in on her parents having intercourse. Fast forward to teenaged Ana, a curious young girl whose newfound sexuality is viewed as a threat by her domineering mother who tries to slap some chastity into her. Finally we see Ana the adult returning to her childhood home, now in ruins, her head full of vague erotic yearnings which elicit a sense of guilt so strong it actually takes on a sinister life of its own. Framed within the conventions of a European slasher flick, with strong nods to giallo masters Mario Bava and Dario Argento, directors Cattet and Forzani have produced an amazingly surreal psychodrama exploring one woman’s sexual evolution from precocious child to repressed adolescent to frustrated adult (Amer translates as bitter). With only a dozen or so lines of dialogue in the entire film they rely instead on heightening our other senses through the use of provocative imagery, embellished sound, and an acute awareness of colour and texture. The result is a highly sensual, almost tactile experience in which a child’s footsteps crack like muted gunfire and a dripping bedspring splashes into a puddle with the force of a subterranean sea. But it is the exaggerated visuals which propel the story as a simple bus ride carries the promise of carnal excesses, a trek through an overgrown garden is rife with sin and temptation, and a candlelit bath literally drowns in masturbatory metaphors. With its manic editing style, soundtrack of incidental noises and softcore music, and camera that seems to linger on eyes, fingers, and throats, this is pure art house fare whose heavy-handed symbolism and religious references are sure to alienate the popcorn crowd even as it blows away fans of the genre. Personally I was mesmerized.

theorbys Aug 30, 2012

This film is not standard entertainment and is not for the cinematically faint of heart. It attempts to be sort of an avant garde style film which seems to be about a schizophrenic girl. Kind of a 21st century Repulsion (with lots of influence of Andalusian Dog). It is actually fairly well done, but it uses devices like abrupt cuts, and sudden movements, over and over that give the film a spasmodic feel that gets tired. And it does not bring much that is really new.

voisjoe1 May 23, 2012

I believe a lot of viewers are not going to think their time was well spent watching this film. Just about the most difficult film I have ever watched.


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phoecherl Apr 07, 2012

The power and danger of eros plays a key role for three women of different ages who may or may not be the same person in this enigmatic picture. The film was chalked up by many as an homage to the gory European giallos of the 1960s and 1970s, but it's also influenced heavily by the narratively cryptic surrealism of directors such as David Lynch. Directors Bruno Forzani and Hélène Cattet undertake an episodic approach by dividing the material into three thematically linked segments. In the first, a young girl is at home as her grandfather dies and her grandmother begins performing a series of bizarre rituals designed to either bring him back to life or ease his passage to the next world; as this is happening, the girl becomes aware that her parents are making love elsewhere in the house. Years later, a teenage girl goes into town with her mother to run some errands, comes face to face with the power of her sexuality, and learns how she can use her allure to change the behavior of men. In the final segment, an adult woman returns to the house where she grew up, which has fallen into disrepair -- and discovers that she may not be alone. Amer was the first feature-length project from directors Cattet and Forzani. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi All Movie Guide


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