Starring Elina Löwensohn, Stéphane Ferrara, Bernie Bonvoisin, Michelangelo Marchese, Marc Barbé, Hervé Sogne, Marine Sainsily, Pierre Nisse, Dorylia Calmel, Aline Stevens, Dominique Troyes, and Bamba Forzani Ndiaye
Directed by Héléne Cattet and Bruno Forzani
Premiering here at Fantastic Fest in Austin, TX, the hyper-stylized Let the Corpses Tan may not be on your radar as of yet. Until, of course, you realize that it’s the next film from the directors of the Giallo-inspired triptych Amer and The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears. The French directing team of Héléne Cattet and Bruno Forzani have taken their filmmaking prowess to the next level with their latest, crafting a crime story inside of an art film. Their style leans towards seventies arthouse but, technically, feels very modern and forward thinking. Cattet and Forzani are trying to push the envelope and move cinema in a new direction while also keeping one foot in the past. Their work also feels very personal and the passion these two filmmakers have comes across in their precision.
Set in the sun-bathed setting of the Mediterranean, an abandoned hamlet looks like the perfect complex to hideout in for a group of thieves with a carload full of gold. The only inhabitant is a woman artist on sabbatical who begins to seduce the new inhabitants, whether she means to or not. What seems like an idyllic situation suddenly sours when two determined cops track down the gang, inciting a feature length shootout where everyone is expendable.
If you’ve seen Amer or The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears, imagine what an action film might look like directed by the same team and you’ll start to get an idea of how striking and unique Let the Corpses Tan is. By grounding their style with a simple crime plot, Corpses combines style and substance in a way that Cattet and Forzani’s previous films either failed to do or just weren’t interested in exploring.
There’s a sensuality here that blurs the lines between sex and violence without exploiting either. In one spectacular sequence for example, a woman’s clothes are ripped apart from machine gun bullets until she is completely nude, but no blood is spilled and the release of death looks oragasmic. It’s a riveting series of shots that are only made better by the visual choices that come before and after it.
Fetishizing the violence allows for the film itself to transcend the characters and their petty conflict but that doesn’t mean they are only props for the hands that mold them to toy with. Great care is taken by the directing team to balance their visual obsession with plot and character development. The characters don’t get lost in the film.