Let the Corpses Tan

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  Let the Corpses Tan

Rhino (Stephane Ferrara) and his gang pull off an armored car heist and take 250KG of gold. They head to their hideout, an abandoned, off the beaten track villa on the sun-drenched Mediterranean Sea. But a woman, an artist named Luce (Elina Lowenstein), has moved in to find inspiration. This will lead to a standoff, with the gold at stake, in “Let the Corpses Tan.”

Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani adapt and direct the 1971 novel, Laissez Bronzer les Cadavres, by Jean-Patrick Manchette and, to be truthful after just one sitting, I am not sure what “Let the Corpses Tan” is about. And, I do not say that as criticism.

This is the kind of crime thriller that harkens back to another time in both its atmosphere and its everyone-out-for-themselves caper story. The stylish look, sumptuous photography, sunny, Mediterranean location and the keeps-you-guessing script make for a film that will require another look to actually delve into the twists and turns of those-who-do-unto-others. I give it a B-.

The phrase 'style over substance' has been used to death in film reviews, but it could be the tagline for Belgian writer/directors Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani's ("The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears") adaptation of Jean-Pierre Bastid's pulp novel.  Utilizing the extreme close-ups of Spaghetti Westerns, zooms, swish pans and staccato editing (one showdown has the effect of a carousel slide projector), the film forsakes character and clarity for cinematic fetishism.  It's like watching a series of painstakingly created storyboards set to a soundtrack featuring Ennio Morricone, but there is something to be said for a nightmare sequence created by the crosscutting of a swinging hammock or the lighting of a cigarette becoming an inferno.  The film's visual delights include the face of star Elina Lowensohn ("Nadja"), her catlike appeal all the film asks of her.

Grade:  B-
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