Review Day 18: Amer (2009)
This Belgian/French co-production is unlike any film from the era it was released, Amer (2009) is partly inspired by the visual tropes from giallo cinema with a mix of experimental cinema and a lucid dream. The film gets referred to as being a giallo, but it isn’t really a giallo, it is more of a psychological expression of sexual repression with certainly visual and audio elements being turned up to the extreme. This is a film that will either engage with its audience or completely lose them early on, there is hard to find a middle ground with this.
The film in basic terms is a three story arc about Ana, first when she is a child (Cassandra Forêt), a young teen (Charlotte Eugène Guibeaud) and an adult (Marie Bos) as she experiences very different things all of which contain their own horrors. As a child she is haunted by a black figure and the corpse of her grandfather, and finds an awakening of sorts when she sees her mother engaged in sex. When she is a young teen she gets eyed by boys and men, feeling some power of her body but unsure of how to feel until her mother shuts it down. As an adult she returns to the now run down home she grew up in, where her sexual repression reaches boiling point.
Amer is filled with striking close ups of eyes, lips, skin and other body parts, with music that never quite fits the scene and sounds of almost everything being singled out and played louder. It is an assault on the senses, evoking feelings of unease and confusion. This isn’t a straight forward film, this is Ana and her dreams and nightmarish visions. While the approach and uniqueness is appreciated, the overall product did not resonate with me, and rather than be engaged with this piece most of the decisions left me feeling cold and uninterested. The final act of the film was perhaps the best part, and the symbolism really hit home with the themes of the piece.
Filmmakers Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani have a great eye for cinema and their experimental approach while intriguing didn’t wholly work on a personal level. While one can appreciate the efforts and uniqueness on display with Amer, the film itself isn’t for everybody and it doesn’t need to be.
Reviews written by Marcella Papandrea