Director: Hélène Cattet
Bianca Maria D'Amato
We follow Ana through 3 impactful stages of her life; as a child in a spooky house dealing with what may be some pedophiliac shit going on. As a young teen, becoming the object of desire for mucho duders on the prowl and finally as an adult where she has to not only face an unseen killer but also who she has become. That’s my interpretation – for all I know the movie was about a dame who diddles herself while playing board games.
I’ll say this about Hélène Cattet’s and Bruno Forzani’s AMER; it’s definitely unique, namely in the way it tells its story and the manner in which it was shot/edited! I’ve never seen film like this and man have I watched mucho movies throughout my pitiful existence! So props alone on that! AMER took me on a visual and audio trip that was beyond novel, one that has to be seen to be believed. Now, although the flick is being pushed as an ode to Giallo’s its only halfway right in that respect. Even though it had the look, the feel, the music and the themes down pat and that it referenced Bava and Argento, the execution was anti-Giallo. Sure there was extreme gore (near the end) and a mystery at hand having to do with whom was the killer, but AMER played them cards in such an aloof and particular way that it flirted more with the surrealistic jive of say David Lynch than the storytelling style of an Argento.
AMER was a subversive experience to say the least. I can’t really tell ya what it was TRULY about - I can only share what it meant to me. Off the bat and till the end; it was first an essay in voyeurism. Not only was the lead character of Ana always being watched by the peeps within her surroundings throughout the 3 stages of her life, we the audience were also forced in the peeping tom seat by the visual approach. So we’re made accomplices as to the happenings, I was a clueless accomplice no doubt but one nonetheless. I really got off on the audio/visual carrying out of the story. There was hardly any dialogue here, hence it was up to the shots, the cinematography (loved the color palette: green, red, violet, red), the score and the sound design to tell the tale. On this watch you’ll see lots of close ups of lips quivering, eyeballs darting, Ana’s curves moving, close ups between Ana’s legs as her dress flails in the wind etc.. And you’ll hear lots of sighing, breathing, sensual moaning and whispering. Yup it was THAT film and I was totally moved by it. Lots of films have focused on their aesthetics to move their narrative forward in the past, but AMER takes the cake, eats it and vomits it in your face in that respect. NUTS!
Oh, oh… I’m suddenly drawing a blank here. Let me have a sip of Baileys and let’s see what that does…gulp…gulp…okay, let’s proceed. I don’t think that I have ever seen a film with so many cuts. This baby made Tony Scott in cocaine mode (Domino, Man on Fire) look tame. The result is that even though I didn’t get the full deal as to what was going on, I still “got it”. The feel of oppressiveness of the first block, the sexually charged and dangerous atmosphere of the second block and finally the “it’s all brought home” with oomph last block came together and gave me a story. When the film ended, I was somewhat in the dark but after some thought, a couple drinks and a head job, I came up with this: it’s about a girl’s sexual evolution, one that was influenced by her environment, one that she finally came to terms with at the end. That’s my take. Am I right or wrong? Either way AMER was beautifully shot, expertly acted (teen Ana was my fav), often creepy and balls on innovative the whole way through.
Any complaints? Well, once I came to terms with the fact that this bitch was gonna be more about themes communicated through sound and images, my qualms were minor. They definitely overused one sound (the ominous breathing noise) to the point of overkill, hence diminishing some of the scenes in the process. Finally, the ending suffered from the “I’m over stretching it” syndrome. The finale was drawn out to the point of me losing my temper. Overall though, I applaud the peeps being AMER, they took the bull by the balls and took a big chance with their flick. The outcome was a work of sexy horror art that NO will not be for everybody but YES, will be interpreted in a bazillion ways and should charm folks who crave something mucho unusual. AMER did not leave me sour!
Somebody’s face gets cut up real good and I mean REAL GOOD by a straight razor. All I’ll say.
T & A
I saw this at a Fest, so my memory of its details is shoddy. I don’t think there was any nudity (maybe a tit) but trust me the film didn’t need it as the whole of it oozed of sexuality. It actually made me horny… then again… its not like I’m hard to turn on…
If you look up subversive in the dictionary, you’ll see the one sheet for AMER. The way this one told its story, via quick cutting, striking visuals, strategic framing and almost no dialogue was innovative no doubt. The flick was also well acted, sported wooing color motif and remarkable cinematography. With that, although it echoed the Giallos of old in terms of themes, visuals and music, I wouldn’t say it was one – think more an art film with Giallo flavors to it.
On the bummer side of the bummer, it was maybe too distant for its own good, it overused one of its sounds and the ending dragged on and on and on. But at the end of the lay, this one made for a daring, perverted and absolutely macabre gorgeous ride. In this day and age of cookie cutter filmmaking it was refreshing to wrangle a movie like AMER. Highly recommended to those who like really artsy and f*cked up movies. Prom Night remake crowd, avoid at all costs!
AMER won the Public's Choice Award at the Montréal Festival of New Cinema 2009.
It also won the New Visions Award at the 2009 Sitges Film Festival.