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Amer (2009)

Not Rated | | Horror, Thriller | 3 March 2010 (France)
As a young girl Ana was a rebellious child. She was also tormented by images of death and a shadowy, ominous figure in black. Now an adult, she is once again tormented by shadowy, other-worldly forms.
7 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Cassandra Forêt ...
Ana enfant
...
Ana adolescente (as Charlotte Eugène Guibbaud)
...
...
La mère (as Bianca Maria D'Amato)
Harry Cleven ...
Le taximan
Jean-Michel Vovk ...
Le père
Bernard Marbaix ...
La grand-père mort
Thomas Bonzani ...
Nono, l'adolescent
François Cognard ...
La silhouette
Delphine Brual ...
Graziella
Jean Secq ...
L'épicier
Béatrice Butler ...
L'épicière
Charles Forzani ...
L'agriculteur / L'homme à la voiture rouge
Benjamin Guyot ...
Éboueur
Yves Fostier ...
Ëboueur
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Storyline

Three key moments, all of them sensual, define Ana's life. Her carnal search sways between reality and colored fantasies becoming more and more oppressive. A black laced hand prevents her from screaming. The wind lifts her dress and caresses her thighs. A razor blade brushes her skin, where will this chaotic and carnivorous journey leave her? Written by Coach14

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Genres:

Horror | Thriller

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

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3 March 2010 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Amer  »

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2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The literal meaning of the word Amer is "bitter". See more »

Connections

References Suspiria (1977) See more »

Soundtracks

La polizia ha le mani legate
Written by Stelvio Cipriani
Published by Cinevox Records/Grandi Firme della Canzone
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User Reviews

 
Images and sound
9 March 2010 | by (Berkeley, California) – See all my reviews

Cattet and Forani are a Belgian couple who have made five short films together. This is their first feature. Divided into three parts, it focuses on childhood, adolescence, and womanhood in the life of Ana. Each moment is seen symbolically, very sensually, but without much discernible narrative, in a marvelous display of stylized visuals (in intensely colored and multiple-filtered 35 mm. images). There is a powerful, hit-you-over-the-head soundtrack. The material is fragmented, beginning with the images of eyes, presented in long horizontal rectangles. A girl is browbeaten by parents, or a couple anyway, whom she witnesses through a keyhole, shut in, and comes upon having sex. Later she also contemplates the hardening corpse of her dead grandfather. White grains under a bed. An ant. A spider. Loud booming sounds, which unfortunately in the Museum of Modern Art screening room blended with the underground sound of a rumbling subway line.

Later, the girl grows up and the film, which begins with dark interiors in an old house, switches to a sunny, Mediterranean, outdoor world. We are near Menton (credits indicate later), on the margin between the French and Italian Rivieras, along the Cote d'Azûr or the Amalfi Drive. A gang of motorcyclists with leather and metal and tight jeans stand by the road with their cycles. But we see only bits and pieces of them.

And this goes on and on, never ceasing to be beautiful, lushly noisy, sensual, fragmented, narrative-free. Amer, which means "bitter" in French, may be ideal for those who like to revel in "pure cinema."

There is one trouble though, and that this film tends to turn neurosis -- or desire, whatever it's about, which isn't altogether clear to me -- into a fashion shoot. It's said to mimic the style of Italian "giallo," pulp fiction, or the Daria Argento kind of stuff, and Italian movie music is among the many sonic allusions. Initially the feel is very much like something Spanish, or the Guillermo del Toro of Pan's Labyrinth. But as time goes on the impression of a fashion shoot undercuts the evocation of dream and fantasy through visual means. What might have been edgy, subtle, and memorable turns to chic kitsch. Or slick horror, when someone plays around with a straight razor in a threatening and suggestive manner as in Dali-Buñuel's Andalusion Dog.

While I and others with me found Amer hard going, despite its accomplished visuals, a British online reviewer called Alan Jones (reporting on the London Film4 Frightfest) was entranced, delighted with the evocation of Italian "gialli." He concludes, speaking of the late segment he explains is a walk along the highway to the hairdresser: "Charlotte Eugene-Guibbaud couldn't be more tantalizing as the hair-chewing Lolita either with her mini-dress hem flapping against her knickers at crotch-level. Maria Bos is pure Florinda Bolkan in the eyes-reflected-in-knife-blade finale, the portion where debts to A LIZARD IN A WOMAN'S SKIN are felt the most. Shimmering with a lush vibrancy and utilizing recycled Ennio Morricone, Bruno Nicolai, Stelvio Cipriani and Adriano Celentano music within its superb sound design, AMER carries an erotic and exotic charge I never thought could be replicated again outside such essential gialli as STRIP NUDE FOR YOUR KILLER or the classic Dario Argento Animal Trilogy. AMER is a faultless masterpiece, so just relax and breathe in the heady perfume of Cattet and Forzani's dazzling lady in black."

This glowing report shows the potential Amer has as a festival film that may, since Magnolia has bought it, get theatrical attention. However, in my view Cattet and Forani have not essentially moved up from their five short films to a feature, because this is merely short-film material spread out over ninety minutes, divided into three, and diced up into many edited visual fragments. A series of stylish pastiches does not a feature make. The conception is too slight and too fragmented to work as a real feature film. Nice eye candy though, and as Jones says, the sound design also is definitely "lush."

Shown as part of the New Directors/New Films series co-sponsored this year by MoMA and the Film Society of Lincoln Center and sown in New York at both the Walter Reade Theater and MoMA's Titus Theater in April 2010. Amer has been shown at many festivals between September 2009 and spring 2010.


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