Starring: Vanessa Paradis, Kate Moran, Felix Maritaud
Paris, 1979. Gay porn director Anne Parèze (Vanessa Paradis) is on a mission to find new ways to inject ‘real passion’ into her work, in a desperate attempt to impress her ex-girlfriend Loïs (Kate Moran), who also happens to be her film editor. When a masked killer begins hunting down her cast members with a dildo switchblade, Anne takes the opportunity to draw inspiration from the grotesque murders, incorporating them into her latest film. As the death count continues to rise, Anne begins to investigate the man behind the mask, and becomes eerily fascinated with the killer’s own tragic tale.
A kaleidoscope of blood, sex and neon lighting, Knife + Heart is an experimental ode to the ‘70s gay porn scene, appalling yet delightful in its seediness. This is a world where the grotesque murder of a friend offers the central narrative for the next in a series of blue movies; where pretty young men are picked up off the streets to become stars for 500 francs a scene, and where on-set ‘issues’ are solved by the aptly named ‘Mouth of Gold’ – a crew member who exists simply to provide blowjobs to the actors between takes.
And yet, there exists a sense of camaraderie beneath this (literally) cutthroat industry. Anne often refers to ex-workers as ‘her boys’, a nod to her role as the matriarch of this strange almost-family. Each death adds a heavy burden, as she finds herself running in circles attempting to find the culprit, protecting not only her own livelihood, but that of her beloved friends.
To see Knife + Heart as a murder mystery, however, is reductive: this hyper-stylised erotic slasher is more of a lucid dream, tracing a plot-line but never delving too far into a concrete story. Director Yann Gonzalez has instead created an experience of disgusting beauty, a commentary on self-contained queer violence.
A garish colour palette pays homage to the conventions of giallo - excessively gory Italian thrillers - and heightens the senses within the film’s surreal atmosphere, creating a world knowingly detached from our own. Knife + Heart may not be an eye-catchingly tense thriller for the masses, but it is likely to become a cult classic – an irresistible beckoning into a space where truth and fiction cannot be strictly separated.
Reviewed at the 2019 BFI Flare: London LGBTQ+ Film Festival. Knife+Heart will be released on 5 July in UK cinemas.
|What||Knife + Heart review|
05 Jul 19 – 05 Jul 20, TIMES VARY
|Price||£ determined by ciniemas|
|Website||Click here for more information|