2010 Running time: 90 Certificate: 18 Rating: 5

Synopsis

First time feature filmmaking duo Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani score a bullseye with this gorgeous, grisly and unforgettable bloody valentine to 1970s Italian thrillers. Stunningly designed and shot, a woman's life from childhood to adult years plays out as a ghost story, sexual adventure and psycho chiller. Fans of Dario Argento, Mario Bava and Lucio Fulci will have a field day spotting the references, while others will be dazzled by this unusual, scintillating debut.

Directors

  • Helene Cattet

  • Bruno Forzani

Cast

  • Marie Bos

  • Cassandra Foret

  • Charlotte Eugene-Guibbaud

Review

With their outlandishly stylised violence, gorgeous design, cool lounge music and memorably bonkers titles, Italian thrillers of the 60s, 70s, and 80s at their best are amongst the finest films you'll ever see.

And such classics as The Three Faces of Fear, Lizard in a Woman's Skin, Opera, and Deep Red are clearly what directing partnership Cattet and Forzani are targeting with Amer.

But, not for them the empty pastiche of a by-the-numbers remake; instead they ambitiously distil the elements that made these thrillers so beguiling - imaginative camerawork and music, beautiful imperilled women, dark eroticism, fetish leather wear, set-piece murders - and blend them together for a film that is experienced as a sensation as much as watched, with dialogue largely replaced by killer tracks from 70s Italian movies and a fantastic sound design.

If Quentin Tarantino forsook his trademark banter and wanted to go Italia circa 1974, this is the film he'd make.

Audiences are most likely to get on with the first and third instalments of this three act life story, a child's ghost fantasy and a stalk-and-slash episode in the childhood mansion, the now grown woman pursued by a trademark black-gloved, straight-razor wielding psycho.

But, the central section - an adolescent sexual awakening story that frames a cliff side walk and encounter with menacing bikers as dangerously erotic waking dreams - provides a breather between the first and final segments.

Not everyone will be entranced, but those willing to slip into the film's groove will find Amer (French for "bitter") one of the year's sweetest cinema-going experiences.

And fans lamenting the decline of Italian fear maestro Dario Argento will be relieved to find his legacy in such talented hands.

Next up for Cattet and Forzani? A thriller with the irresistible title The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears.