Yann Gonzalez’s decent sophomore feature continues his penchant for stylish, hallucinatory and provocative filmmaking in this serial killer mystery centering on a French gay porn producer.
Dir. Yann Gonzalez
2018 | France/Switzerland | Drama/Horror/Mystery | 102 mins | 2.35:1 | French & Spanish
Not rated – likely to be R21 for homosexual content, violence and nudity
Cast: Vanessa Paradis, Nicolas Maury, Kate Moran
Plot: Anne is a gay porn producer, damaged by alcoholism and a recent break-up with her editor Lois. When one of the stars of Anne’s latest productions is murdered, the shoot is thrown into turmoil.
Awards: Nom. for Palme d’Or & Queer Palm (Cannes)
International Sales: Kinology
Subject Matter: Mature/Slightly Disturbing
Narrative Style: Slightly Complex
Audience Type: Slightly Arthouse
While some might accuse Knife + Heart of being all style and little substance, I think there’s enough in its narrative to suggest a more layered complexity.
In this sophomore feature, a follow-up to You and the Night (2013), writer-director Yann Gonzalez continues his penchant for stylish, provocative filmmaking that revolves around lust, desire, violence, carnality and naked bodies.
An official selection in the main competition at Cannes, Knife + Heart centres on a French gay porn producer named Anne, whose declining romance with her editor, Lois, becomes one of the subplots that make up the film.
The other revolves around a serial killer on the loose, who is mysteriously targeting some of the cast members in Anne’s ragtag ensemble.
“Let me smell your skin one last time.”
Part mystery, part hallucinatory dive into the world of B-grade porn-making, Knife + Heart sees Gonzalez employ flashy cinematographic and editing tricks in the book that deliver a cinematic experience that is wildly intriguing, though it does seem at times to struggle to achieve emotional transcendence.
The film’s meta-filmic elements keep it fresh for the most part, with reel life converging with real life—its climactic sequence set in a movie theatre reminds me somewhat of this Spanish cult horror piece called Anguish (1987) which I saw many years ago.
I would probably describe Knife + Heart as a loose cross between the self-reflexive performativity of Olivier Assayas’ Irma Vep (1996) and something that, say, a provocateur like Gaspar Noe might have done. It’s not great, but still fun.