February 21, 2011
*Limited and Foreign lease in 2009/2010, American DVD 2011.
I think it's fair to say that Amer is a divisive film. On one hand, lovers of film will bask in its stylish glory, because this movie oozes visual pleasure like few others I've seen. Giallo lovers will also be like a cat in heat with Amer, as it absolutely takes horror fans back to the Gialli favorites of decades gone by, with its music, pacing, color pallet, and not so subtle nuance. Some of it even reminded me of old school Argento.
On the other hand, I can absolutely see how the average film-goer will take issue with its meandering and metaphor riddled lot, utter lack of dialogue throughout most of its running time, and the nagging feeling that they just watched a pretentious art house movie that really didn't accomplish anything.
So which is it? Brilliant or pretentious? Well, it's both.
Put simply, Amer is the story of girl/teen/woman named Ana, divided into three parts; the first shows Ana as a child, the second shows her as a teen, and the final section shows her as an adult.
In the first part of the movie, Ana is a little girl living in a big creepy mansion with her parents and grandparents. Her grandfather dies, her mom is a bit of a bitch, and her dad just wants to get laid. The best part of this section of the film is the shadowy figure in black. Graziella, whom I'm taking it is her grandmother, lives in the room next door to Ana and appears to be a witch. She peeps through keyholes at Ana, put salt under her bed, and follows her around the house, shrouded in black lace, terrifying her. Ana is obviously a terrified kid, with a creepy family.
In the second part of the film, a teenage Ana and her mom walk to the store. Everyone stares at them either like they're a couple of whores, or like they're making rape plans in their minds.
In the final part of the movie, Ana is a grown woman, returning to her childhood home, which now stands dilapidated and abandoned. Another shadowy figure is waiting for her... in the shadows... to follow her around like her own shadow. Shadow, shadow shadow... it had to be done. Things get bloody as Ana does her best to evade her tormentor, but is forced to confront them in a stunning climax of... well, there really wasn't much of a climax.
Amer is a gorgeous film. It's a visual and aural work of art in many ways. In spots, it's tense and creepy. In other spots, it's erotic and dreamlike. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the whole erotic thing... Amer is basically a movie about a woman coming to terms with sexuality, at three different stages of her life. As a child, she learns to associate fear with sex. As a teen, she learns the power she has over men, and isn't sure if she likes it or it terrifies her. As an adult, I'm pretty sure she's a whore, but they never really make that clear.
Amer is also slowly paced and it meanders. The "plot" doesn't ever really go anywhere, just kind of happens and gives you glimpses of things. There's very little dialogue throughout the entire movie, which some may love and some may hate. Amer is also a bit style over substance, which is fine, but in the end it left me feeling a little bit confused and empty. Wanton even.
It also bears mentioning that this movie has about 537 closeup shots of eyes; you know that we do a monthly feature here at THC about Eyes from Horror flicks, so we loved it, but damn... there were a TON!
It has some good blood and gore, but very little of it and almost near the end. It's creepy, but really only in the first part, and somewhat in the final section. It delivers a strong message about sexuality and how events in our life can shape our lust and desire, at least that's what I took away from it. To me, the whole thing felt more like an exercise in visual bliss more so than a narrative driven film.
B+ For lovers of Film, not people that like movies, Amer may be a little slice of heaven. For people who prefer straight forward narratives -or any narrative at all for that matter- this may be an exercise in frustration. I say see it anyway, because it was at the very least, interesting and different.