A masked murderer is brutally killing off the actors of a low-grade gay porn company run by the fierce Anna Parez in the sleazy corners of 1970’s Paris.
Two young men fornicate in a green patch of forest while another secretly watches from behind some trees while masturbating – and this is the audience’s welcome into the world of 1970’s French gay porn. We first meet low-budget porn director, Anna, harassing her ex-girlfriend, Loïs (who is also the production company’s film editor), in the early hours of the morning in an attempt to draw her back into the relationship. After being strongly rejected, Anna sets her sites on creating amazing pornos in an attempt to impress Loïs and win her back, but, unfortunately, her actors start to turn up brutally murdered.
After the first death of a former actor, the somewhat heartless Anna finds inspiration in the recent event to create a new film called “Homo Cidal”, mimicking the situation in the most ridiculous, porn-inspired fashion. Though, as more of the cast wind up dead, actors begin refusing to work with her company for fear of being the slashers next victim and it’s up to the determined director to find and stop the masked killer so she can continue to make her films.
French director, Yann Gonzalez’s, Knife + Heart pays homage to exploitation and slasher films while still finding room for emotional distress and heartbreak among the bloody murders. In this case, the weapon of choice appears to be uniquely (and somewhat humorously) a knife-dildo.
The costumes are one of the highlights of the film, with head-porn-honcho Anna the absolute picture of an alcoholic, chain-smoking, heartbroken adult film maker. She is the epitome of 70’s porn-luxe with her short, peroxide-blonde bob, forest-green, wax-coated trench coat and electric blue eyeshadow, and my god – does she look fabulous!
Despite the unique context, plot and setting combined with the humorous characters and deluxe wardrobe, the storyline isn’t enough to keep the film from falling into a lull at times. As the excitement of the costumes and outrageous characters begins to wear off so does the interest in the film with there being no emotional connection between the audience and the film’s protagonist or sense of loss for the slasher’s victims.
Vanessa Paradis portrays her character with heart and soul, throwing herself into the role of a heartbroken mess who’s trying to keep her s***t together, while keeping the company alive and functioning. Based on a real-life, tyrannical, female porn director, Paradis plays Anna’s matriarchal position just as well as she plays the crazed ex-lover, driven to madness over her unwillingness to accept the end of the relationship.
Knife + Heart has all the visual and audial aesthetics desired in a 1970’s gay-porn themed film, but falters with its emotionally disconnected storyline, creating an engagement barrier with its audience.
Knife + Heart screens as part of the Adelaide Film Festival, which runs until October 21st.
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