The love for cinema that directing duo Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani, who are married, share is undeniable. Every frame of their latest film Let the Corpses Tan oozes creativity and confidence. Part homage to 70s European crime films, part spaghetti western, and part fever dream the film is a cinematic crystal ball. One that provides a glimpse into cinema’s past and exciting future.
Based on Jean-Patrick Manchette and Jean-Pierre Bastid’s novel, the film follows the events rapidly unfolding at the isolated home of Luce (Elina Löwensohn), an artist who is spending time with both ex-flame Max (Marc Barbé), an author, and her current beau (Michelangelo Marchese). Interrupting their bohemian love triangle are a trio of robbers led by Rhino (Stéphane Ferrara) that are looking to lay low after stealing 250 kg of gold. During their getaway, Rhino’s team picks up two women and a child, who turn out to be Max’s current wife and child and their maid, who also seem to be headed to Luce’s home.
As the island retreat fills and temptation, of the carnal and double-cross variety, grows the question of loyalty and power come into play. Before long the once scenic Mediterranean local turns into a hotbed of bullets and deceit once the police officers are thrown into the mix.
An exhilarating film from a visual perspective, even the closeups on individuals smoking or eating carry an air of intrigue in Cattet and Forzani’s hands, there is much to like in the film. Everything from the sexually charge fantasy sequences to the darkly comedic way ants are used to convey character movements during shootouts ensures that there is never a dull moment in the film. However, though tripping with style galore, the substance is not quite enough to hold up this vibrant work of art.
There is simply not enough character development to support the frenzied action at its core. The characters and plot are so thinly written that after a while the film cannot help but feel repetitive. One ends up taking it all in from a distance, not really caring who lives or dies. While there is no question Cattet and Forzani are talented directors with a distinct vision, one cannot help but wish there was a little more substance to go with all this glorious style.