Amer (Bitter) (18)

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The View Review

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Review byMatthew Turner07/01/2011

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 87 mins

By turns disturbing, suspenseful, puzzling and terrifying, Amer is a stylishly directed, visually stunning pastiche of Italian genre cinema with a superb soundtrack and terrific performances from the three leads. As such, it's something of a must-see for giallo fans.

What's it all about?
Directed by Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani, Amer is a pastiche of Italian genre cinema or giallo (primary characteristics: strong use of colour, psychological horror, eroticism, gloved killers, wildly expressive music) and stars Cassandra Foret as Ana, a young girl who's terrified by the creepy goings-on in her parent's villa after the recent death of her grandfather. As a teenager, Ana (now played by Charlotte Eugene Guibbaud) becomes acutely aware of her own sexuality after a close encounter with a gang of bikers is thwarted by her (possibly jealous) mother (Bianca Maria D'Amato); later, as an adult (Marie Bos) her violent sexual fantasies about her cab driver (Harry Cleven) give way to a terrifying reality. Or do they?

The Good
All three actresses are superb as Ana, particularly the drop-dead gorgeous Guibbaud, who, rather cleverly, also bears a striking resemblance to D'Amato; their scenes together in the middle section are fraught with sexual jealousy. There's hardly any dialogue in the entire film, so you're constantly aware of the physicality, expressions and mannerisms of the three leads, down to the tiniest movements; Foret is especially good in this respect, adeptly conveying her child's-eye-view of the world and its powerful mixture of curiosity and terror.

The Great
The direction is extremely stylish throughout, from the gorgeous production design work (including a terrific French Riviera location for the crumbling villa) and its strong use of vivid colours, to the jarring editing and shocking imagery. There's also a powerfully intense soundtrack as well as a rather catchy score lifted from giallo classics such as 1974's What Have They Done to Your Daughters?

Worth seeing?
It's fair to say that Amer presents something of a challenge to the casual film-goer (it's perhaps best thought of as an arthouse horror flick), but it's undoubtedly worth seeing and stands as a welcome alternative to the usual parade of soulless Hollywood slasher films. Recommended.

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Amer (Bitter) (18)
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Content updated: 26/09/2015 06:38

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