The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears (2013)

First published as part of an end-of-year listicle thingy in Grolsch FilmWorks, as (probably) my favourite UK theatrical release of 2014.

A labour of love from Belgian writer/director couple Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani, and forming a complementary diptych with their female-focused 2009 feature debut AmerThe Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears is a giallo-inflected journey into a middle-aged man’s troubled psyche.

When the wife of Dan Kristensen (Klaus Tange) vanishes in their locked-from-the-inside apartment, the businessman turns to his strange neighbours – and a detective (also played by Tange) – for help. Through an Art Nouveau building whose confounded architectonics and hidden spaces come to reflect the labyrinthine structure of the film’s narrative, Dan – and we with him – get increasingly lost in the storeys searched and stories heard, all of which feature holes, wounds and blood, and point, in very different ways, to the same primal scene.

Boldly baroque stylistic flourishes make the film an aesthete’s wet dream – and the first time I saw it, I just surrendered to the heady sensorama of its pure cinema. Yet there is method in the madness. As all the sadism and surrealism open up to an interior tale of schizophrenia, gynophobia and abjection, this film oozes ever more of its secrets on each subsequent viewing, and turns out to be a meticulously structured edifice of modernist storytelling.

Anton Bitel