12th Aug2019

‘Knife+Heart’ Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Vanessa Paradis, Nicolas Maury, Kate Moran, Jonathan Genet, Félix Maritaud, Khaled Alouach, Noé Hernández, Thibault Servière, Bertrand Mandico, Bastien Waultier, Romane Bohringer, Dourane Fall, Jules Ritmanic | Written by Yann Gonzalez, Cristiano Mangione | Directed by Yann Gonzalez

knife-heart-poster

Knife+Heart (Un couteau dans le cœur) is a French 80s cinematic throwback directed by Yann Gonzalez. The film is set during 1979 in Paris and follows Anna (Vanessa Paradis) a gay porn producer who is recovering from heartbreak with romantic partner Lois (Kate Moran) when a mysterious killer begins to pick off Anne’s male talent one by one.

Variety describes Yann Gonzalez film as “unabashedly queer”, and you could not argue against a single letter in that description. Knife+Heart is incessantly provocative, too much at times, from its neon-lit opening to its apathetic climax. A stylish satirical feature that finds any form of over theatricality intensifies such and indulges to a sickly humorous extent. At times it is effectively intoxicating. The cinematography by Simon Beaufils is downright astounding and is a spectacle to behold in its own right. It is orchestrated among gorgeous lighting and composition that always frames a magnificent image for the audience to behold.

The score by M83 and production design by Sidney Dubois sound and look fabulous, respectively. The former is deliriously evocative. A stunning creation that pulls the viewer through many eerie embellished emotions via engulfing synths. The latter is a coating of tension and atmosphere with a thin layer of dreary passion always overlapping each other for dominance resulting in a dream-like state that takes over its viewer with utter conviction.

The problems arise with the narrative. The story by writer-director Yann Gonzalez and co-writer Cristiano Mangione has no idea where to take this enigmatic plot, and the result is a lacklustre and contrived finale that feels undeserved and overly convoluted, especially considering the expositional delivery of the reveal that feels thrown in for good measure. It is a disappointing ending to an otherwise atmospheric and tension-filled thriller that takes the definition camp and appropriates it as an understatement.

Knife+Heart is on limited release across the UK, and available to stream on MUBI right now.

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