Willem Dafoe doppelganger Klaus Tange in The Strange Color of Your Bodys Tears.
  • Strand Releasing
  • Danish actor Klaus Tange in The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears.
Belgian directorial duo Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani follow up their giallo-steeped debut, 2009's Amer, with The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears—opening on Friday at the Grand Illusion—another journey into the darkest recesses of that Italian genre.

Unlike Peter Strickland's Berberian Sound Studio, which made the rounds last year, they don't use the tropes of giallo—the tension between the sexes, the hyper-violence—to deconstruct and critique it, but rather to luxuriate in all the glowing reds, the inky black leather, the stylized set design, and the intimations of supernatural doings. The result is a film that plays more like a work of art than a horror film or a thriller, which is its biggest strength—and weakness.

Highlight of a stellar soundtrack featuring Ennio Morricone, Bruno Nicolai, and Riz Ortolani.

The story revolves around Dan Kristensen (Willem Dafoe doppelgänger Klaus Tange), a telecommunications functionary who returns from a business trip to find his wife, Edwige (the beautiful, underused Ursula Bedena), missing—and the door locked from the inside. When a detective arrives to investigate, it's hard not to wonder if Dan isn't in some way responsible, because he's one shifty dude. If so, maybe he doesn't remember or maybe an external force made him do it.

Then there's the spooky old neighbor (face shrouded in shadow) who reveals that her husband also disappeared under bizarre circumstances, suggesting that their Brussels apartment building, a glorious Art Nouveau creation, may actually be the real, Overlook Hotel-like culprit. Or maybe she's a figment of his feverish imagination, because The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears is that kind of film: the kind that makes you feel like someone spiked your drink before viewing.

As with David Lynch's last feature, Inland Empire, Cattet and Forzani construct a noirish narrative, tear it to shreds, and throw the pieces in the air to see where they'll land. They also use repetition in a musical manner, except that this is a film, and multiple appearances of a single image or scene, no matter how intriguing at first, can grow grating after awhile—like the B&W sequence in which a dagger glides over a nipple—so it comes as no surprise that the film inspired a few walkouts at this year's SIFF. As for the actual score, it consists of pre-existing tracks from Ennio Morricone, Bruno Nicolai, Riz Ortolani, and Allesandro Allesandroni, and they work beautifully. I don't regret staying until the end—I even watched it twice to make sure I didn't miss anything—but I'm a fashion magazine addict with a high tolerance for couture kitsch. Your mileage may vary.

The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears opens on Friday—find Movie Times here.