Monday, June 1, 2020

New Flesh: Knife+Heart (2019)

The Film: Knife+Heart (2019) (A.K.A. Un couteau dans le coeur)

What Is It About?: Set in Paris, France during the year 1979, Knife+Heart revolves around a masked serial killer as they begins to murder gay porn performers with their weapon of choice: A switchblade dildo. As the bodies pile up, gay porn producer Anne (Vanessa Paradis) juggles trying to solve the mystery of the murderer to protect her gay porn studio while trying to win back her ex-girlfriend and film editor Lois (Kate Moran). Eventually, Anne goes on a journey that leads her to the answers she needs to solve the mystery, but can she stop the killer in time?

Why Do I Recommend it?

So, to kick off June (in which, in honor of Pride Month, I'll be writing about LGBTQ content in horror films throughout the month), I wanted to write about Knife+Heart since I figure despite it having been released in America over a year ago, this might not be on a lot of people's radars for several reasons. Probably among the major ones being that it was only given a limited theatrical release in America, and that it is subtitled. Even though the demand for viewers to read subtitles has grown recently, there's a reason why the joke from Daria where Daria and Jane get Kevin and Brittany to literally flee in terror at the idea of a subtitled foreign film still holds up today.

Why shouldn't you flee from Knife+Heart? Well, let's start by talking about that aforementioned queer content: This movie is filled to the brim with queer goodness, which should be obvious from the fact that the entire plot revolves around a gay porn production, and one for a film that is given the title Anal Fury to boot. Most, if not all, of the characters are somewhere in the LGBTQ spectrum, including our protagonist Anne, to the numerous queer men involved in Anal Fury including Anne's confidant and director Archibald, to a queer character who works as a fluffer on the production and is only known as "Mouth of Gold." The only major straight character seems to be Nans, a man Anne recruits to star in Anal Fury whom claims to be straight and supposedly takes the job for the money. It can be argued that Nans might be queer though, as one of the final set pieces of the film follows him going to a dark room with the potential intent on having sex. In addition to all of this, you have several set pieces dedicated to the scenes for the adult film within the film, which does include one scene with a cum shot just to hammer in the gayness of it all.

Besides that sweet, sweet queer content, you also have the fact that, and I'm repeating myself with what I wrote in my recommendation for Swallow, this film is beautiful with a capital B. Cinematographer Simon Beaufils (most well known for his work on The Intouchables) crafts seriously striking sequences, including some splendid murder scenes that help Knife+Heart in its goal to tribute the giallo genre (more on that in a bit). Instead of just telling you about the cinematography, just take a look at some of the shots below and try to tell me that you don't think that is a stylish film:

The combination of the film's color palette which, again like Swallow, emphasizes primary colors and Beaufils's camera work makes Knife+Heart a delight for the eyes and then some.

Finally, what I think Knife+Heart excels at is its dedication to blending genres to create an effective film. As I touched upon above, the major genre Knife+Heart is channeling is the giallo genre. If you would like a well-done explanation of giallo, I recommend watching this video on the topic. Otherwise, the best way to explain giallo in brief is that the films within the genre generally have an emphasis on a mystery typically involving a killer offing victims, as well as stylish visuals and a female protagonist determined to solve the mystery. Knife+Heart hits all of those tropes to a tee. Yet it's not just a giallo tribute, as there are elements of other genres too. You have romance with the subplot that deals with Anne's increasingly desperate attempts to win back her ex Lois. As well as comedy, as the film has a number of surprisingly hilarious moments, that includes memorable lines such as, "I want you all naked and stiffer than President Valentin," and "She saw so many gay flicks, she thought she was a f-g." Knife+Heart knows the ridiculousness that the world of gay adult films can veer into, and mixes it effortlessly with a dramatic lesbian romance and a murder mystery to create something very much worth watching.

Available on: Shudder, Kanopy, iTunes and Amazon

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