French filmmaking duo Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani’s début feature ‘Amer’ blended the baroque eroticism of the Italian director Dario Argento’s giallo thrillers with a rigorous formal experimentation. Their more challenging and frustrating second feature, with its blink-of-an-eye juxtapositions and jarring sound design, is more of a psychedelic endurance test.
In an art nouveau apartment block in Brussels, a morose businessman (Klaus Tange) searches for his missing wife. The dimly lit corridors are labyrinthine, the walls permeable, the tenants inscrutable: a croaky-voiced, garret-dwelling woman, her face always in shadow, speaks cryptically about her own missing husband; a seductive femme fatale prowls the hallways.
If you make it as far as the obvious, disappointing denouement, you might be left asking yourself if the filmmakers’ abstract style is better suited to short films such as ‘O Is Orgasm’, their floaty contribution to the horror anthology ‘The ABCs of Death’.