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Strange Color of Your Body's Tears, The

Strand Releasing // Unrated // December 9, 2014
List Price: $32.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ian Jane | posted December 3, 2014 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:

Directed by Belgian filmmakers Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani, who previously collaborated on Amer a few years prior, 2013's The Strange Color Of Your Body's Tears wears the influence of Italian giallo directors like Dario Argento, Mario Bava and Sergio Martino plainly on its sleeve, almost as a badge of honor and it would seem, on the surface at least, that Argento's Inferno was particularly inspiring to the filmmakers, at least in terms of location.

When the movie begins, Dan (Klaus Tange) returns home to his fancy art deco style apartment building in Brussels from some business travel and finds that the wife he left behind has mysteriously disappeared, pretty much without a trace. Despite the fact that there's no evidence whatsoever to the contrary, Dan deduces that something sinister has taken place and assumes that she didn't leave by choice in his absence but was in fact taken against her will.

Dan decides to investigate. He starts exploring the building and winds up visiting a widow, her face obscured behind some dark shadows, who lives on the top floor only to learn from her that she too has recently lost a spouse under equally mysterious circumstances. From here, he continues to explore the building and interact with its denizens, but as he does, the mystery only becomes more complex until we have to wonder if Dan is as sane as we first believed him to be.

A film that is very much about the journey, rather than the destination, you could easily dismiss this picture as an exercise in style over substance and to be fair, the plot and exposition definitely plays second fiddle to the visuals on display. Having said that, The Strange Color Of Your Body's Tears does work quite well as a fever dream inspired thriller, one that keeps us intrigued not so much by what's happening on screen as it does by showing us how it happens. To explain, the film uses architecture as an interesting framing device and so too does it use the building itself to foreshadow events that take place later in the film (again, a nod to Argento). The visuals in this regard pull us, along with Ken, deeper into the building and the secrets that it holds and it's here, rather than languid shots of a black gloved killer (though of course we do get one) stalking dimly lit hallways, that in these scattered moments the picture finds its suspense. The narrative is basic enough to set the film up, and the visuals do the rest.

This would backfire in a big way if the visuals weren't so compelling, but they are, and the movie is almost hypnotic not only in its use of color (and occasionally black and white as well) but just as much in its bizarre but creative compositions and its set design. The film also uses fairly plentiful nudity in interesting and often times very abstract ways in what serves simultaneously as an homage to the sex and violence inspired pictures that inspired it and as a way of accentuating and contrasting the curves of the central location with those of the female form. Male nudity is doled out in similar ways, an admirable ways of breaking genre stereotypes and these scenes are just as artistically important as those featuring nude women. Cattet and Forzani use flourishes of fairly strong violence in similar ways, with certain murder set pieces tying into the bigger picture both thematically and stylistically throughout the movie. Again, the movie plays against type here by featuring as many male victims as female. A minor point maybe, but it stood out while the movie was playing. All of this plays against a soundtrack made up of cues taken from the vintage European thrillers that inspired it. This works both for and against the movie in that the music suits the content perfectly, but at the same time does diminish the originality that is otherwise such a strong point.

The Blu-ray:

The Strange Color Of Your Body's Tears arrives on Blu-ray from Strand Releasing in a 2.35.1 widescreen transfer presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. This is a ridiculously stylish film so expect plenty of post-production tinkering to show up here: shifts from color to stark, high contrast black and white, color tweaking… things like that. It works in the context of the story that's being told here but things like this can sometimes challenge a company to deliver a strong transfer. Thankfully this disc is up to that challenge as detail on this digitally shot production is typically outstanding, particularly in the frequent close up shots used throughout the movie. Texture is also impressive while black levels are inky and deep while remaining free of crush. Compression artifacts aren't ever a problem here and there's no evidence of any edge enhancement or noise reduction. Obviously print damage can't factor into the equation here either. Skin tones look nice, primary colors really pop. This looks great on Blu-ray.


The only audio option for the film is an French language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track with options subtitles provided in English only. The lossless mix is a very good one, keeping dialogue mostly up front but occasionally placing characters and certain passages in the surround channels to interesting effect. There's also some impressive directionality in terms of how the sound effects are used here too. As to the score, it sounds excellent and has beautiful depth and range to it. There are no problems with hiss or distortion, the levels are properly balanced and the subtitles are easy to read and free of any typos. Top marks here.


Extras are slim, limited to only a trailer for the feature, trailers for a few other Strand titles, menus and chapter selection. It is worth noting though that the cover art is reversible, with an uncensored version of that artwork on the flipside.

Final Thoughts:

The Strange Color Of Your Body's Tears is a pretty trippy film and while it may at times deal in style over substance, there's enough of a story here along with some impressive moments of genuine suspense to nicely compliment the strong visuals. It's a giallo throwback to be sure, but it works and it works quite well so long as you don't mind having to work a bit to really interpret what's going on. Strand's Blu-ray disappoints in terms of supplements but delivers a presentation that is impressive overall. Recommended.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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