"Amer" ** 1\2 (out of ****)
There was a part of me that really wanted to like "Amer" (2011), a French, psycho sexual, Euro trash, giallo inspired, thriller. But there was a stronger part of me that didn't think the movie worked.
The first half hour of this film is pretty close to brilliant filmmaking. The movie had a heightened my sense of anticipation. What would happen next? Where is this movie going? It is visually never a dull picture. But in the end it feels like a case of style over substance.
The film follows Ana, played by three different actresses at different stages in her life. The best sequence is the beginning as a young Ana (Cassandra Foret) is convinced her dead grandfather is coming back to life each time Ana opens a pocket watch, which she stole from her grandfather. Meanwhile her grandmother, Graziella (Delphine Brual) is referred to as a witch, as she walks around their mansion house dressed in black with a veil. Is there an evil spirit lurking around? Are Ana's fears justified or is it all merely her imagination?
Imagination is a major theme in the film. Our inability to sometimes separate that blurry line between fact and fiction. As Ana grows older she has more and more difficulty distinguishing the two.
"Amer" is an at times haunted house story and a slasher film at the end with sexual titillation thrown in for good measure. As I stated it is a giallo inspired film, but, never seems to completely fit into the genre, even though we can clearly see the attempts to pay homage.
Stephen Holden, film critic for the New York Times wrote "Amer is a voluptuous wallow in recycled psycho sexual kitsch". That sounds about right to me.
I can't deny "Amer" has moments which work but too much of the film doesn't make a lick of sense. It doesn't feel like a rich character portrait, a study into a disturbed mind. It feels cheap.