By Mónica Delgado
In one side, Yann Gonzalez Knife + Heart (Un couteau dans le Coeur) is a total stylistic bet, that harks back to seventies’ Giallo, in its fetishism of black gloves and knives. In the other, it is an affirmation of the inevitable relation between cinema and its consequences in reality, naïve as it sounds. The film, that carries the stylized atmospheres of Gonzalez’ previous works, it’s forged through a succession of murders by a serial killer who uses a phallus-kind knife. The victims are actors from different gay porn films, directed by Anne Pareze, a neurotic filmmaker (magnificently played by Vanessa Paradis), who little by little unveils where she takes the inspiration from her films.
Yann Gonzalez cinema has been built through a symbiosis between a hyperrealist scenography, bright colors and electronic music. But Knife + Heart, unlike Les Recontres d’apres minuit, his last feature, is nurtured by other kind of references, less influenced by Fassbinder or chamber theater, to unleash a sensual imaginary related to the gay universe, as in the films of Paul Morrissey or softcore porn films with plots in the seventies. Color and glamour (queer glamour) as a design of the serial killer environment, dressed in leather and masks, under the influence of gay Leather and bondage.
This choice of color plus crime, of desire plus blood, of bodies and cuts in the staging of the film, reminds us of Mario Bava’s Blood and black lace, in a superficial layer, the fashion environment as a space of action for a serial killer avenging a personal matter, something which in Knife + Heart is condensed in a cheap porn filming set with some artistic intent, and in the backstage of different love affairs between the filmmaker and her editor (Kate Moran) and the actors and their sexual practices, led by Archibald, the sublime Nicolas Maury. This bet to consider the art-crime of giallo in its style and mode of representation, may be recognized in some works that might have inspired Gonzalez, like the woks of Bava, Argento or Martino, however, the mechanisms of crime refer more to a fusion with slasher films, something patented by Master Lucio Fulci in several of his films, especially in The New York Ripper. All the fetishism and cues used by the killer to approach his victims and crimes, allow Yann Gonzalez to bring out his referential weapons, that go beyond giallo and gay cinema, and which open a cascade of possibilities and mentions.
The soundtrack is again managed by M83, who also musicalized Les Rencontres d’après minuit. Here the music escorts the story of this filmmaker in her shootings and her love frustrations. On the other hand, the filmmaker allows the crimes to become breeding ground for her more crazy scripts, full of nonsense and kitsch spirit. Then, the criminal investigation, strange and sinuous, becomes an argument for his new film, Anal Fury, fusing “reality” and fiction, and finding in the shooting and projection, the keys for the malicious nature that stalks them.
Point apart is the work in 16mm for the scenes of porn cinema (fiction) and 35mm for the creative process and love deception of Anne Pareze (reality). It’s also unavoidable to relate this second film by Yann Gonzalez with another one presented in Critics’ Week here at Cannes, the short film Apocalypse After, by Betrand Mandico, filmmaker who also acts in Knife + Heart, both films about porn filmmakers in sentimental crisis from a queer extravagant point of view, the perfect metatextual and extra-cinematic closure.
Directing: Yann Gonzalez
Script: Yann Gonzalez, Cristiano Mangione
Cinematography: Simon Beaufils
Cast: Vanessa Paradis, Kate Moran, Nicolas Maury, Pierre Emö, Thibault Servière, Pierre Pirol, Naëlle Dariya, Salim Torki, Jeremy Flaum, Noé Hernández
Production Company: CG Cinéma / Piano