More noise than signal


Republished from the show notes of my other site, Fuds on Film.

I wonder what Vanessa Paradis has been up to lately, thought no-one. The answer, it appears, is that she’s starring as Anne in Yann Gonzalez’ Un couteau dans le coeur.

Set in 1979, she’s a producer of low rent Parisienne pornography, reeling from her recent split with her lover and editor, Kate Moran’s Loïs. Loïs could no longer deal with Anne’s controlling nature, but we don’t have to deal with that for very long before the film morphs into a slasher, as the cast of Anne’s films seem to be targeted for death by a dude in a leather face mask and a dildo with a retractable knife.

At which point, well, if the film’s not taking itself seriously, I don’t see why I should. It flicks around between Anne using these events as inspiration for the continued production of her films, before briefly crossing genre into some sort of fantasy while she attempts to find out who’s behind the killings, and then back into slasher territory for the bloody end.

I normally have a soft spot for this sort of ill-advised lunacy, and had quietly allowed myself to hope that this was shaping up to sit alongside Mandy, but sadly the hodge-podge of exploitation, relationship melodrama, giallo-esque slasher and weird, presumably purposefully awfully realised fantasy elements never cohere into anything worthy of your, or certainly, my attention. It has something of the feel of a film that’s trying to position itself from the off as a cult classic, which just feels cynical. That’s a status that’s bestowed by the audience, not created by the filmmaker, and this has something of an air of desperation to it.

I’ll give it this, I was never bored, as you could never quite be sure what nonsense it was going to throw at you next, and for that reason I can’t say that I hate the film. Who knows, maybe you are in the market for something incredibly strange and irredeemably French, and this will scratch that itch and become a firm favourite of yours the way something like Tetsuo: The Iron Man did for me as a youth. After all, that’s no less weird a concept, however, given that I didn’t like Knife + Heart all that much, I’m not going to recommend that you roll that dice. At least, not until those dice appear on a streaming service you’re already paying for.