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  Knife+Heart Get The Cameras Rolling, Get The Action Going
Year: 2018
Director: Yann Gonzalez
Stars: Vanessa Paradis, Kate Moran, Nicolas Maury, Jonathan Genet, Khaled Alouach, Félix Maritaud, Bertrand Mandico, Bastien Waultier, Thibault Servière, Pierre Emö, Pierre Pirol, Jules Ritmanic, Noé Hernández, Romane Bohringer, Elina Löwensohn
Genre: Horror, Comedy, Drama, Sex, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Just because they've seen you in a movie, some people think they can treat you any way they want. Take this young man, who made a big splash in a gay porn film recently and spends his evenings at a nightclub, dancing the hours away, but tonight he is distracted by a man clad in leather from head to toe. Obviously a fan, the man coaxes him into bed where he ties the star up for a little light bondage, yet when he produces a black leather dildo to penetrate his latest conquest, it all goes horribly wrong as a blade protrudes from its tip and the leatherman proceeds to stab the actor to death. But his director, Anne Pareze (Vanessa Paradis) has troubles of her own...

Knife+Heart was the second feature from French director Yann Gonzalez, who may be better known in connection to electropop outfit M83, for he and its main mover, Anthony Gonzalez, are brothers and he generously produced the soundtrack for this effort, originally called Un couteau dans le coeur in its native language. But it was not France that was its major influence, it was the giallo of Italy, those twisty-turny horror thrillers which reached their apex in the nineteen-seventies when this was set. Except it was not set at the beginning of the decade when the style was in full flow, it was set at the end when the genre was tailing off as the eighties were on their way and saw off the giallo.

Sure, they were still made, but they had run out of ideas was the general consensus, so why place Gonzalez' characters in that point of time? This was down to the director showing off his knowledge of gay porn, as he based the Paradis character on prolific producer Anne-Marie Tensi, a name even then, in her late seventies heyday, would not be too well recalled as she like many of her ilk would use pseudonyms on her hardcore projects. Unless you were privy to this sort of arcane information, you might well be wondering why a lesbian was making sex films aimed at homosexual gentlemen and not other lesbians, but it could have been there just wasn't a market for that material.

I mean, have you ever heard of a lesbian porn film from the seventies that was not aimed at men anyway? On watching this, some hardier souls would have searched the internet for information, but it didn't really have much influence on the main story, which was if anything more a horror than a porn film, despite its milieu. Certainly Gonzalez was reluctant to show anything below his cast's waists, assuming they had their trousers on, that was, and unlike many European films with sex themes that were not strictly pornography, there was nothing explicit in what we saw - the violence was more graphic than the sex, and that was simulated too. What this was more keen on was camp, not that it was especially hilarious, it was more a gay sensibility that saw to it there was a conscious artificiality to each scene.

With that in mind, you were always at one remove from the action, as if invited to pass judgement from on high about what we were watching, and the result of that was you were rarely too invested in anyone in the story. There were distinctive characterisations, with Paradis committing to her role as the heartbroken filmmaker who cannot get over splitting with her editor girlfriend Lois (Kate Moran) and focuses on that even as her film within a film cast are being sliced and diced by the masked maniac. She was convincingly bedraggled in her emotions, yet even so was not a way into what carried a self-conscious air throughout, no matter how well styled it was - there had obviously been a lot of thought applied to each and every shot. Whether this artistry would carry it over to non-gay audiences was debatable, even without sexually graphic stuff it held the tone of a niche effort that may not even appeal to giallo fans, and this far into the twenty-first century crossover gay hits were few and far between, but you applauded the dedication and its hymn to the benefits of escapism, which made it more modern to its era.

Click here to watch at MUBI.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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