Co-directors Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani may be French, but they bleed Italian cinema. With Let the Corpses Tan, they've constructed a stunning -- even awe-inspiring -- tale of double-crossing and unrepentant human casualty by employing the filmmaking methods of spaghetti Western director Sergio Leone, along with, of course, the lurid, exploitative blood-and-dagger imagery of classic Italian giallos. The story follows a gang of misfit criminals escaping to a hideout carved into the rocky Italian cliffside, where an eccentric, society-hating artist, Luce (Elina Löwensohn), and her guests sunbathe and make bullet-ridden art. Don't pay too much attention to the plot. Just know that there's a cache of gold bricks in a car, a cop who has stumbled on the hideout, an arsenal of weapons and only one way in or out of the compound.
Most of the story takes place within a tense 24-hour shootout among the ruins in the hills. Characters are split up into different bunkers and lookouts, and the story will often rewind itself to examine the same scene from a different character's point of view. This method also allows viewers to gain a surety of space -- the ruins are almost labyrinthine. But what matters most is the imagery, which is seriously made without taking itself too seriously. Think the psychedelic ascendency of early Alejandro Jodorowsky, films that, through an overt focus on primal elements, become both cosmic and comic. More times than I could count I had no idea what the hell was happening, and also just didn't care that I didn't know. Let the Corpses Tan
is that strange and beautiful.