“My heart has gone dry.”
That’s what Lois says when when our protagonist (if you could say this film even has one.), Anne asks for another chance. This seems less like dialogue than a warning to the viewer, as to how they will feel by the end of this movie.
It also feels like a statement about the characters of “Knife + Heart”. None of them (excluding, maybe the gentle and emotional fluffer for the actors on Anne’s films. Affectionately known as The Mouth of Gold.)
Anne Pareze (played by Vanessa Paradis) is a low budget gay porn director in 1979 Paris. As you can tell from the moment you meet her she’s a mess, complete with alcohol and drug issues. She doesn’t have any regard for her employees, including her now ex lover Lois (played by Kate Moran). she defiantly feels no remorse for basing her newest film off of the on going investigation of the murder of one of her star actors, Karl.
We see this murder play out in, one of the best scenes in this stylish Giallo throwback. In a seedy underground dance club, Karl is lured into a back room on the premise of sex with a black leather masked man. I will say that the killer’s leather mask is an interesting twist on the Gallo staple of the killer always wearing black leather gloves. ( IE. The Cat O’Nine Tails, The Bird With The Crystal Plumage, Giallo in Venice). The killer ties Karl to the bed and proceeds to violently rip off his underwear. He then undoes his pants and removes a large black dildo. Now before some of you get turned off by the idea of what you assume is about to happen, our masked man raises the dildo, presses a button, and a long shiny blade shoots from the tip! He then begins to (off camera) stab Karl in the anus with the dildo knife repeatedly. The entire scene is cut back and forth between this and Lois at the studio editing and cutting one of Karls scenes. The editing done here is honestly some spectacular work, as almost every stab is punctuated with Lois snipping film or clamping it back together.
I won’t explain everything about the film, as I do feel some of the twists and turns are best left un spoiled, but I will say that Karl’s death isn’t the last time the dildo knife is used, to glorious effect!
if I was to use one phrase to describe this film, it would definitely be “DePalma-esque”. From the camera angles, even to the clever use of his signature split screen, this film seethes Brian DePalma. Yet he isn’t the only one that, director Yann Gonzalez, takes cues from in this film. You have a color pallet that screams Argento, with blues, greens, and reds coming from places that they have no business coming from. But it’s almost impossible to resist using those colors when your doing an homage to 1970’s Giallo films.
one of my issues with this film could just be chalked up to being a characteristic of Giallo films all together.
Due to this film centering on a porn studio and porn shoot, obviously you’re going to have a “movie-in-a-movie” situation happening. K+H has, not one, but two movies within our movie. One of which is the autobiographical murder mystery (the amazingly titled “Homocidal”!) and the other is the story of a farm hand who falls in love with the farmer’s son, and end up being caught by the farmer. The latter of these ends up being a confusing plot device, that I’ll let you decide what it is supposed to mean.
K+H also treats you to another Giallo staple, which is the ending monologue explaining the killer’s motives. A practice that was popularized by Hitchcock’s Psycho, but perfected (and done to death) by countless Giallos.
Knife + Heart is definitely a film for genre fans looking for a nice throwback that takes it’s time. Featuring a great synth soundtrack by M83 hammering home those Argento / Goblin vibes. I really enjoyed this film, even when it gets a little confusing, but then again, What good Giallo movie makes complete sense.
3 out of 5 stars.
Knife + Heart is now streaming on Shudder.