Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Amer (2009)

It's a stunning and sensual piece of work, they say. It's a beautiful homage to the giallo movie and a work of art from start to finish. Every frame is a treat for the eye, every sound cue caresses the ears and viewers will even think that they can feel the sun beating down on them as they watch this homage to the Italian horror maestros of the past from writer-directors Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani.

What some people won't tell you is that Amer is also crushingly dull from start to finish and has absolutely nothing going for it beyond the superficial sensory stimulation "gimmick". There are certainly moments that call to mind the works of Argento and Bava but the rest of the movie feels more like an attempt to recreate the cool, swinging movies of the 60s and early 70s that featured gorgeous people like Alain Delon, Anita Ekberg, David Hemmings, etc.

The basic story strand, though it's really just a skeleton upon which to hang three different sequences of increasing dullness, follows Ana from a child to a woman through three very different, but equally stimulating, experiences in her life.

The fact that Amer IS so divise and easy to argue over does mean that it certainly has done its job as a work of art - it prompts discussion, debate and strong feelings - and I have to give my respect to the film and the makers, however begrudgingly, for that. For me, however, it just doesn't work on any level beyond the technical.

It doesn't work as a homage because it generally doesn't actually feel like any of the giallo movies that I've seen. It doesn't work as a horror movie because it isn't one. It doesn't work as a psychological drama/thriller because the more interesting aspects are buried under so much style over substance that the substance simply suffocates. I'll be nice and say that it works a strange experience that almost deconstructs many elements of the giallo subgenre but even that good work is undone by . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . well, I'd just be repeating myself over and over again. Much like the movie.

The three actresses playing Ana are quite good (Cassandra Foret = child Ana, Charlotte Eugene Guibeaud = teen Ana and Marie Bos = adult Ana) but I again feel as if I'm being generous when the performances are so covered over by the choice to favour every excessive bit of audio and visual work.

Things do improve slightly in the last 10 minutes or so, with a couple of wince-inducing moments that actually provide some kind of payoff after all of the preceding tedium, and I must admit that I enjoyed the funky and evocative soundtrack but that's all of the praise I am going to give the movie. I fully expect fans of the film to pull me up on this review but I shall not be swayed in my opinion - a bad film and quite possibly the dullest movie that I've seen with a decent budget behind it.


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