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Knife + Heart (Un couteau dans le coeur) by Yann Gonzalez - Fragments 2019
Tuesday 11 June 2019, by
You And The Night, celebrated at Cannes’s Critics’ Week in 2014, cemented Yann Gonzalez’s reputation as a truly original director, with his own brand of stylish, colourful and erotic filmmaking. With Knife+Heart, Gonzalez offers up a stylised slasher flick in the vein of Italian gialli, set in the heart of the gay porn industry in the seedier parts of 1970s Paris.
The film opens with a particularly gruesome murder in which a masked killer stabs his victim repeatedly with a dildo-shaped knife. The victim is a young actor, starring in one of producer Anne Parèze (Vanessa Paradis)’s kitschy pornos. Parèze then sets out on a mission to uncover the mystery behind the leather-clad killer, whilst trying to win back the affections of her ex-lover and editor Lois.
Knife+Heart is beautifully crafted, shot on 35-millimeter film, it is saturated with dazzling flashes of colour, which pulsate to the beats of a synth score, which make its dreamlike sequences completely hypnotic. Like his previous work, Gonzalez’s latest effort is rich with obvious cinematic references, from William Friedkin’s Cruising to Brian de Palma’s Phantom of the Paradise, with some sequences perhaps unintentionally reminiscent of scenes from Nicolas Winding Refn or Gaspard Noé’s films.
Vanessa Paradis is beautifully understated and commanding as the enigmatic, alcoholic Anne Parèze and there’s a pleasingly great turn from Nicholas Maury (Call My Agent’s flamboyant Hervé) playing Archibald with the same joyful abandon and dedication as he did the highly strung agent.
At times, the meticulous attention paid to the visuals overshadows the film’s storyline and character development. The characters themselves tend to display little emotional depth, which means it’s sometimes hard to fully engage with their trials and tribulations. After a bit of a lull in rhythm midway through the film, Knife+Heart ends on a thrilling high note, as the story unfolds and the killer’s identity is revealed.
Knife+Heart will be screened as part of the Fragments Festival at Genesis Cinema on 12 June at 9 pm.