The title is the French word for “bitter” but this provocative and sensational debut is anything but. An oneiric, eroticized homage to 1970s Italian giallo horror movies reimagined as an avant-garde trance film, Hélène 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—and that’s all you need to know. Drawing its stylized, hyperbolic gestures from the playbooks of Bava, Leone, Argento, and De Palma and taking them into a realm of near-abstraction, Amer has genre in the blood. Its bold wide-screen compositions, super-focused sound, emphatic music (lifted from original giallo soundtracks), and razor-sharp cuts make for an outrageous and intoxicating cinematic head-trip. [Synopsis provided by New Directors/New Films]
Directors/Writers: Helene Cattet, Bruno Forzani
Producers: Eve Commenge, Francois Cognard
Cast: Cassandra Foret, Charlotte Eugene-Guibbaud, Marie Bos, Bianca Maria D’Amato, Harry Cleven, Jean-Michel Vovk, Delphine Brual, Bernard Marbaix
Editor: Bernard Beets
Production Designer: Alina Santos
Cinematographer: Manu Dacosse
Directors Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani on how they met and got into filmmaking…
Hélène studied Biology. Bruno studied accountancy. At one moment we got bored of this… and we met in Brussels and started to work together in 2000 with self-produced short films that we made with four or five friends (the same friends we are still working with today).
On how “Amer” came to be…
Hélène had read a book called “Le bal” from Irène Nemirovsky. At one moment a mother slaps her child, a girl…this was mixed with a scene from a Konuma’s Pinku Eiga we don’t know the title where a woman walks between Yakuzas. The result was the idea of the film: the story of a girl at three moments of her life where she discovers body and desire.
And on their approach to making “Amer”…
First, our way of driving the narration is sensitive. As the theme is the discovery of the body, of desire, of sensuality, it was important for us to try to communicate the sensations of the main character to the audience, to try to make the audience understand the story as if the viewer was in the character’s skin. We would like that the spectator follows the subject of the film by this sensitive driving of the story. Second, our way of driving the narration is playful. We like to play with the cinematographic tools to give the images a rich polysemic value, to have different levels of reading. So, for us, the audience has to take his place in the movie by this open way of seeing the film.
The directors on their inspirations for the film…
Concerning the way to free up the subconscious and to use association of ideas in writing, Dario Argento’s “Inferno.” Concerning the use different levels of reading in the writing, Satoshi Kon’s “Millenium Actress.” More widely Giallo and Italian exploitation movies of the 60-70’s and Japanese exploitation movies of the same period.