Monday, February 24, 2014

Flesh of My Flesh (2013) Film Comment Selects 2014

Director Denis Dercourt promises to talk about the film afterward if we haven't walked out

Denis Dercourt's head trip nightmare horror film has begins towards the end with Anna, played by Anna Juliana Jaenner locked up in a mental facility. The story then drifts back in time and we see the events that put her there. It seems her daughter has an eating disorder and in order to keep her going he mother has discovered that a steady diet of human flesh and blood is required.

A strange off kilter film that was shot over 6 months using digital cameras with the lens held in front of the camera body and manipulated the film looks like what you think a memory might be like if committed to film. Strange bits of the image are out of focus,and what we do see clearly isn't always what we think should be. Its a weird effect that takes a little while to get used to. Once it clicks we're no longer here but inside Anna's head and things are troubling.

Anna is a strange character who mostly stares, springing to life occasionally as if someone flipped a switch. She is one of the least connected characters I've ever run across in film and her performance is both of putting and fascinating. You could almost argue it's a non-performance but at the same time you can tell that something is going on behind the eyes.
Gavin Smith and Director Dercourt intro the film

During the Q&A that followed the film Dercourt said that the film was based on an actual case that happened in Berlin. He had been talking about a pair of guys who had been eating each other, when someone mentioned the case that became the film. Dercourt got some details but not a great many, preferring to be able to fill in the way he wanted.

How is the film?

Its good, but I'm not quite sure beyond that. The film is a decidedly unique film that takes a while to click with and then once you click with it it takes a while to sort out. The film simply doesn't do what we expect it should. I was talking to a couple of people Saturday night after the film and they didn't like it. The film wasn't what they expected, it didn't do what they thought it should. In a weird way it wasn't conventional enough (Which is weird considering that one of the people I see frequently at very unconventional films). The film is very much Anna's POV and if you can't click with that you'll be in trouble.

I like it, but I don't know if I can give it a completely fair shake since as Gavin Smith feared in his intro and at least person said to me after the film, it suffers being seen after the similar Cannibal. That said definitely worth a shot if you get the chance to see it.
Post film discussion

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