Amer (UK - BD RB)
Our Marcus goes on an arthouse trip through three events in a girl's life...
Told in 1970s Italian Giallo film style, Amer shows us three points in Ana's (Cassandra Forêt, Charlotte Eugène Guibeaud and Marie Bos) life. Looking at the world from her own unique perspective and presenting her experiences to us, we see Ana’s world through intrigue or fear and witness her experiences with sex and her chaotic dreams.
Amer (or “Bitter”) isn’t going to be for everyone, with a short story structure and its homage to a bygone era of European cinema. I wouldn’t necessarily count myself as a fan of the entire piece, but some of the elements were incredibly effective. The first story with the young Ana as she visits the room of her dead grandfather was a master class in suspense. Never once did I feel that Ana was scared of the situation (beyond her black veiled grandma anyway), but every key turn, every drawer open and every sound in this relatively dialogue free story pushed tension to a very effective limit.
I didn’t really much care for the segments that followed. Teenage Ana and her slow gravitation pull towards boys and her grumpy mother keeping her in check was a little drawn out, and by this point some of the techniques (lots of harsh close ups, lots of intercutting between thighs, cleavage, hair in mouth and goose bumps etc.) stating to drag a bit for my tastes and while I liked the ideas I found my mind wandering.
The third segment with an adult Ana brought it back a bit. The darker side to Ana’s psyche and revisiting the family home tied together all of the previous themes to a fairly dramatic end, with some psychedelic dream like sequences that really play with the imagery in disturbing ways.
Fans of the genre that Amer is homage to will obviously get a ton more out of this film than I did, but really I enjoyed the ideas the film presented more than I actually enjoyed the final product.
Well whether it’s intentionally done to capture a seventies feel or Amer had budget restraints, because this HD transfer looked a little ropey. With the vast amounts of close ups you can’t help but see the dancing grain in almost every shot and while the image has a pretty warm HD glow to it, detail is sorely lacking pretty much across the board and there were even a few instances where the image seemed to get a bit streaky.
Of course the dream sequences with their bright colours look pretty striking, especially with the heavy black levels (which sometimes looked a little noisy), however I found there to be some weird edge rippling in some of the panning shots but again this is probably the camera work as opposed to the transfer, as the entire affair is pretty basically done with it’s filming.
The opening has a particularly striking piece of guitar based score where you can hear every string plucked with a nice bit of clarity however once you get past that there’s not really a lot to report on. As I said before the movie is almost entirely devoid of dialogue and the entire affair comes down to sound effects. Breathing, wind blowing, creaky doors, brushed fabric. It’s all pretty well placed in the mix but I wouldn’t say it was all that effective. It works in regards to creating the mood, but to my ears it felt like it needed a little more care or maybe even a little more power to fully sell the audio experience.
The disc features a host of short films by Helene Cattel and Bruno Forzani. There’s an opening text overview and then there’s text introductions to ‘Catharsis’ (03:00 HD), ‘Chambre Jaune’ (07:38 HD), 'L’Etrange Portrait de la Dame' (05:35 HD), 'La Fin De Notre Amour' (09:30 HD). All show the team's work at different levels of quality and all had elements you can see used in Amer itself. Lastly there’s the Amer trailer (00:59 HD).
I don’t think I was the audience Amer was aimed at, but I still enjoyed a lot of the elements on show across the three segments. The disc isn’t really up to much in the A/V department, but that sort of adds to its retro-ness. Fans of the genre have plenty to look at with the short films on the extras but I’d imagine the more mainstream fans of cinema will find this one a bit of a head scratcher.
* Note: The images below are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over
Release Date: 31st January 2011
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 French, Dolby Digital 2.0 French
Extras: Short Films, Trailer
Easter Egg: No
Director: Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani
Cast: Cassandra Forêt, Bianca Maria D'Amato
Genre: Drama and Thriller
Length: 90 minutes
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