Messer im Herz / Knife+Heart

Paris, 1979, a gay club (interior). A young actor, fresh off the set of a porn film leaves the dancefloor and follows a mysterious stranger into an anteroom. The stranger, wearing a leather mask, strips him, ties him to a bed then pulls out a large dildo. From which emerges a large knife, with which the stranger stabs him to death.

Panic on the set of the film company, which is run by Anne, an alcoholic lesbian, who is starting to lose it already as her partner (favoured dress sense: shirt open to the navel and no bra) has just dumped her. Anne herself is played by Vanessa Paradis with platinum blonde hair and way too much mascara. To call the films that she produces B movies would be overgenerous.

After someone else is murdered, and the police don’t show much interest, Anne is forced to act. First things first: she renames her film (originally called Anal Fury 3) to “The Gay Murderer” (apparently in the English version this is expressed as Homocidal). Once that is done, she starts to play detective.

So far, so John Waters, though apparently the film genre that one should cite is Giallo, an Italian style beloved of quite a few pretentious film critics and virtually no-one else. From now on, up until the last few scenes, the plot loses any pretensions towards making sense, and just goes batshit crazy.

A policeman sidles up to Anne and gives her a feather. Apparently feathers were left next to the bodies of both murder victims. They’re from the same bird but the police aren’t really interested in finding out which one. Fortunately, Anne finds a man with a mutated hand who tells her that its an old blind bird which was assigned to doomed souls, although these birds were assumed to have died out. This leads to a train journey into the middle of nowhere where she finds the grave of the murderer. No, I didn’t miss out any extra information which may have made this any more coherent.

Now normally I would have got very annoyed at this point. I don’t mind films that adopt their own logic (this week’s other new release Cleo is a wonderful example of taking a wild idea and running with it) but this was just making things up as you go along. However, I just assumed that the ridiculous dialogue and plot twists was some sort of lukewarm parody of the bad porn films that we were shown earlier in the film.

Apparently not. I have since read a couple of reviews of the film, and – although I don’t think any even mentions these scenes which must take up about half the film – they are full of praise for the wit and clever storytelling. Maybe they show a different film to proper film critics.

Anyway, all this nonsense is finally over with, and we’re back in a gay fleapit cinema, where you pay 3 Francs for a torch and you can fumble with yourself as much as you want. The cinema is showing The Gay Murderer, and one of Anne’s old films, until some plot intervenes and there is a dramatic (well, not that dramatic to be honest) denouement. Its all fair enough if you like that sort of thing.

Last words perhaps about Vanessa Paradis. Again she is perfectly serviceable (though the fact that she won a best actress award at Cannes for this says more about Cannes than anything else). Though I never thought I’d ever ask: You gave up Joe le Taxi for this?

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