Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani’s Let The Corpses Tan

Whenever contemporary filmmakers attempt a homage to cinematic styles, tones and artistic mechanics of bygone eras in cinema it’s very easy to tell whether they know their shit and have captured their intended aesthetic or missed the mark. Every culture and era of the medium has their own unique and distinct flavour woven into every aspect of the artistic process, and any pastiche is just going to be a delicate undertaking. In the case of Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani’s Let The Corpses Tan they have done an impeccable job of emulating this kind of… 60’s/70’s Italian pulp/murder/spaghetti/cop/splatter/action vibe that’s so specific to that time and region I can’t even properly describe how… unmistakable the palette is. It’s like Italian genre cinema went to sleep one night and this film is a window into into its REM cycle. On a remote, sun drenched island in the Mediterranean (shot in beautiful Corsica), a gang of murderous thieves spearheaded by a vicious femme fatale (Romanian cult icon Elina Löwensohn) hide out in the crumbling ruins of a Hellenic ghost town, harbouring a stolen trove of gold bullion. As they languidly await some vague deadline, others approach including a gaggle of unfortunate civilians and two intrepid motorbike cops, whose arrival heralds the furious, bloody, beautiful extended gun battle that becomes the film’s centrepiece. That’s all for plot really, but trust me it’s all you need, this film is all style, aesthetics and nightmarish visual poetry and contains some of the most outright striking imagery, editing and production I’ve ever seen in cinema. The weapons are all gorgeously retro and have this… ‘Spaghetti SteamPunk’ mechanical anatomy, the violence has a Giallo singed, pop art bloodiness to it, and the editing is some of the most painstakingly detailed work I’ve ever seen. Closeups on craggy faces, hyper-quick zooms, pans, jump cuts and jarring chops that are so off the wall, intense and unconventional they nearly give the viewer a heart murmur in the best way possible. Amidst the gunplay that although supremely stylish is very down to earth there is also this wonderful flourish of shocking surrealism woven into the story, as we see a mysterious, Venus-esque maiden appearing occasionally surrounded by tantalizing, erotically charged symbolism, gunshots explode into otherworldly blasts of coloured paint and all manner of dreamlike cutaways, hyper-stylized mysticism and enough bright colours and sunshine to get a rave going. Absolutely astonishing film, highly recommended.

-Nate Hill