Knife + Heart (Un couteau dans le coeur) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Knife + Heart (Un couteau dans le coeur) Reviews

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May 7, 2019
I had a bad feeling about this movie, but the music on the trailer (by M83) convinced me to take a chance on it. I'm so glad I did. It copies its style from giallo and Brian DePalma movies. I'm not a big fan of those styles, but this movie uses them so well, to such entertaining ends, that I was hooked.

The film-within-a-film looks as interesting as the film itself, which is a hard trick to pull off. The music is perfect. Stay for the credits.
Super Reviewer
April 4, 2019
UNDRESSED TO KILL - My Review of KNIFE + HEART (4 Stars)

If you're like me, you've been hungering for a lurid, trashy slasher movie, the kind that Brian De Palma used to churn out in all its pop-colored, split screen glory. Imagine my excitement then when I heard about KNIFE + HEART from French filmmaker Yann Gonzalez and his co-writer Cristiano Mangione.

Its description alone had me all dressed up in drag hiding in an elevator with a straight razor at the ready. Set in the seedier side of 1979 Paris, the film follows hard-drinking Anne (Vanessa Paridis) a lesbian who produces gay porn who keeps losing members of her company to a leather-masked serial killer whose weapon of choice is a dildo equipped with a retracting switchblade. Of course, like any great thriller, Anne has an Achilles Heel in the form of an obsession with her ex Lois (Kate Moran), who happens to act as her Editor. As such, Anne creepily checks in on Lois through a peephole in the wall (a great image in the film) and somewhat pathologically incorporates everything that's happening to her into her films. Add a swirling, driving George Moroder-esque synth score by M83 and dazzlingly colorful, exciting cinematography by Simon Beaufils and a jumble of tones from campy to melodramatic to scary, and you have a film unlike any otherā¦almost.

I say "almost" because KNIFE + HEART is about cinema, so its references to such films as CRUISING, BODY DOUBLE, and VERTIGO, to name a few, plus an occasional nod to early John Waters, keep it from being totally original. Clearly Gonzalez loves the films it references, but he also has something more on his mind. KNIFE + HEART tackles such issues as homophobia, internalized and otherwise, the effects movies have on our lives and vice versa, how the art of storytelling can save our lives, and how sometimes unnatural obsessions are worth the risk. No matter how you slice it (pun intended), it's a wild, fun ride.

Yes, it's messy, bogged down and sometimes inert in its second half, unresolved, and completely unsatisfying as a whodunit, but if you just let its pure cinema wash over you, you may not care. De Palma at his best, as with DRESSED TO KILL, operated in a similar fever dream state. Paradis has a serious, commanding presence, an enigmatic stare and just the right amount of damage to her personality to anchor the film and allow supporting players like Nicholas Maury as one of her crew members to carry the campier elements with real flair. The film speaks to cinema's checkered past with depictions of gay people, and Maury relishes the opportunity to mince and smolder while refreshingly never being the object of derision. In its own twisted way, the film reclaims the sissy persona and puts it in its rightfully heroic place.

The film consistently upends such tropes. When was the last time you saw a lesbian seduce a straight man into going gay-for-pay? When have you seen a film create the porn versions of its own sequences? Things get clumsy and on-the-nose in the frankly boring last third, but it's also seductively filmed, so my boredom may have just been hypnosis instead.

While Paradis reminded me of Melanie Griffith in BODY DOUBLE, the major influence on this film has to be CRUISING. The first kill almost feels like a shot-for-shot recreation, but Gonzalez adds a sickly growl and haunted eyes to his murderer. It's nightmare inducing. Much like its predecessor, it throws out a slew of suspects but doesn't quite resolve in a traditional mystery fashion. Gonzalez, like Friedkin, seems more interested in shining a light on pathology and trauma than in achieving the perfect Rube Goldberg contraption. It doesn't quite have the depth of character to pull this off, but this genre rarely does. Much like the films of Dario Argento, we simply relish the over-the-topness of it all, hang on for dear life, and hope we make it out alive.
March 28, 2019
Eerie, depressing, dark fun, scary! A Grimm romance empowering the LGBTQA
March 23, 2019
Vanessa paradis is brillant. this horror film is of a bloody originality
December 17, 2018
Just an insulting peace of a movie. Not scary, not funny, not romantic. Vanessa Paradies plays disgusting.
November 16, 2018
Fueled by a killer soundtrack from M83, Knife + Heart gives off a je ne sais quoi quality that, after watching, will be impossible to forget.
½ October 26, 2018
Vanessa Paradis (yes, her of Joe Le Taxi and ex-wife of Johnny Depp) stars in this French queer cult film as a lesbian film-maker of male gay porn movies in Paris, 1979 (bear with me) when her actors are brutally murdered one by one while she takes inspiration from these murders for her next project. I want to say this is John Waters meets John Carpenter but that wouldn't be fair to either Johns. Shot on a limited budget on proper film, this certainly tips its head to film-makers such as Dario Argento and Russ Meyers, the sort of fare you see in rep cinemas like the Scala in Kings Cross once upon a time; and to an extent, it succeeds in replicating those films, though I reckon it could go further and get wilder and camper than it is now. Otherwise, the film is stylish but disjointed and at 110 mins, it drags in the middle when we can either do with a few more artfully staged murders to liven up proceedings or shave off 15-20 minutes. There are some good ideas and knowledgable cinematic homages floating around but it remains a curious film that doesn't quite lift off, though it does make me nostalgic for places like Scala and wish they are still around so films like this can find their audience there.
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