Written by: Michael Den Boer on February 8th, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: France / Belgium, 2009
Directors: Hélène Cattet, Bruno Forzani
Writers: Hélène Cattet, Bruno Forzani
Cast: Bianca Maria D’Amato, Cassandra Foret, Delphine Brual, Harry Cleven, Marie Bos
BluRay released: January 31st, 2011
Approximate running time: 90 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 French, Dolby Digital Stereo French
BluRay Release: Anchor Bay Entertainment UK
Region Coding: Region B
Retail Price: £19.99
The plot for Amer revolves around character named Ana. And the plot has been broken down into three stages of her life. The first stage centers around her childhood fears. During this segment which takes place is a foreboding mansion. Ana is stalked by mysterious figure dressed in black. The second stage centers around her adolescent insecurities. During this segment Ana encounters a motorcycle gang, who help awaken her sexual libido. The third and final stage centers around adulthood and her longing for the past. During this segment Ana returns to the foreboding mansion of her childhood. Which has long since been abandon and is now in decay. Shortly after her arrival. She is visited by a black gloved stranger, who always seems to be one step ahead of her.
In recent years the word Homage has lost some of its luster. With many filmmakers, who were paying tribute to films or filmmakers. Simply recreating verbatim things that they were paying Homage too. Instead of trying to inject some of themselves into these Homage’s. In 2009 Belgian filmmakers Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani would make the focus of their feature film Amer. A Homage to the Giallo film genre (Italian Thrillers) and the filmmakers who are most intertwined with this genre, Mario Bava and Dario Argento.
Structurally Amer is three separate incidents in the life of a character named Ana and how they shaped her psychologically. And while they all contribute to the film’s melancholy finale. Each of these three incidents hold up well on their own. Content wise this film’s greatest weakness. Is its lack of depth not only with its protagonist Ana, but especially with all the characters who come in and out of her life. And while some might be put off by the lack of back-story. The ambiguous nature of the plot is greatly enhanced by the film’s highly stylized visuals. Another asset this film has is its use of music. Most of which has been culled from Stelvio Cipriani’s score for What Have They Done to Your Daughters? As well as music from Bruno Nicolai’s score for The Case of the Scorpions Tail.
Finally while the majority of cast are given very little to do. The three actresses who portray Ana at the three different stages of her life. Are all very good in their respective roles, especially Marie Bos – the adult version of the Ana character. When all is said and done. It is the film’s title Amer which translates to ‘bitter’ that best surmises this film. There really is no middle ground with a film like this. It is either the type of film that you are going to adore or a film that leaves you with a ‘bitter’ tastes in your mouth.
Amer comes on a 25GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive anamorphic widescreen. This film was shot on 16mm and there is a healthy amount of grain throughout. Details generally look crisp, there are no problems with compression and DNR is kept in check. Colors often look vibrant and nicely saturated. Flesh tones look accurate and black levels fare well.
This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in French and a Dolby Digital Stereo mix in French. Also included with this release are removable English subtitles that are easy to follow and error free. The differences between the two audio mixes is minimal. Both audio mixes sound crystal clear and robust when they need too. With the sound effects and film’s score benefiting most from these audio mixes. Another area in which these audio mixes excel is how they handle the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack.
Extras for this release include a teaser (25 seconds – letterboxed widescreen) and a trailer for the film (59 seconds – anamorphic widescreen). Rounding out the extras four short films ‘Catharsis’, ‘Chambre Jaune’, ‘L’Etrange Portrait De La Dame En Jaune’ and ‘La Fin De Norte Amour’, that were also directed by Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani and text about each short. Thematically all four of these short films have a lot in common with the main feature. Overall Amer gets a first rate release from Anchor Bay Entertainment UK.