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3.2 out of 5 stars16
3.2 out of 5 stars
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on 10 October 2013

This is a very odd art movie. I knew going in that there would be no story worth speaking about, and that it was split into three barely connected sections. So even knowing this before I started it, I'm still taken aback by how insubstantial it was. The film is mostly pointless with no obvious aim or purpose.

It was all style, no substance. The style was good and initially intriguing in its own way. There is a constant use of extreme close ups and exaggerated sound effects - doors creaking, leather crinkling and heavy breathing being the most used sounds. For the first section it worked and was holding my attention well even though nothing much was happening.

The pace was slow but it was fine with me. It wasn't stretching things out too much and seemed correct.

Then after about twenty minutes it becomes too abstract and vague when the little girl is locked in the room. She appears to be under attack and ends up on the ceiling. Or something. It was so confusingly filmed in close ups that it's hard to say what was happening. After about five minutes of nearly incomprehensible images I started to become a bit bored.

Then it switches to the second section. This whole twenty or so minute part is outright pointless. They walk to a shop, and then they walk back home. They meet a few people. There is a hint of menace and sexual frustration.

The style had now completely taken over. The problem was that they had already used up every stylish idea they had. We were now seeing and hearing the same things for about the fifth time. Also the bright sunny outdoors of this part couldn't compete with the dark gothic atmosphere of the first section. The goth atmosphere allows a certain licence for pretentious avant-garde visuals that are easier to accept. Without that tone it just looks a bit silly.

Also the tendency to film someone walking a ten second distance with fifty camera set-ups that take two minutes to play out becomes both wearying on your patience and more than a little ridiculous looking.

At least the first part, although clearly plotless, at least hinted at some sort of a vague shape of a story somewhere in the background. Part two had no suggestion of a plot.

Part three begins okay. The taxi ride gives them some interesting visuals to play with. Then it becomes rather random and very overlong. By the end it's exhausting watching these endless over directed close ups.

The ending itself is unsatisfying and meaningless. This is not a film with any characters, a story or a point. It's a string of stylised close ups accompanied with extremely exaggerated sound effects. A little goes a long way. It's very overegged with overwhelming style at the expensive of any plot. If only they could have bolted some vague sort of a story onto these visual ideas. Then they might have had something worthwhile. As it is, without any proper narrative it's all just a bunch of pretty images that don't mean anything.

I discovered this film by looking the directors up after watching their contribution to The ABCs of Death (2012) anthology movie. The directors (there are two, a man and a woman, both apparently from Belgium) contributed the short film O is for Orgasm which was a stylised bunch of close ups and abstract images and sound effects that simulate what an orgasm feels like for a woman. This decent enough film, along with four of their frankly terrible earlier short movies (2000-2004 and included on this disc) reveals that this style is what they do. They have been very consistent in their approach to filmmaking. Story is clearly a lesser concern to them than filming lots of detailed close ups. Also there might be a bit of a leather fetish going on. Perhaps even a glove fetish, which conveniently nods towards 70s Italian slasher movies.

The film is dripping in sensual imagery. The camera pervs at the older girl. Lots of shots of things rubbing against her skin. I thought this was odd considering one of the directors is a woman.

By the second part I saw signs of deliberately stretching little moments as far as they could. The third part felt very bloated with pointless moments (the taxi driver coming and going). The pace suffered, but it remained watchable. It somehow didn't become outright annoying or frustrating, and I say this as someone who has nearly zero patience for arty slow pacing. I can imagine some people being driven up the wall with how slow it is.

Is it any good? It's not good, but it's not bad either. It's more below average. Overall it's just very pointless. If there was just a more convincing hint of a story and a little substance then this could have been good. A failed experimental dud, but an interesting failure. It's worth seeing at least once just because it's so unusual.

4 out of 10
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on 17 August 2011
Like others I watched this because I heard that it was inspired by giallo films. Indeed it does bear many of the hallmarks of gialli, including the soundtrack, visual elements and lighting - and these are not subliminal but up-front, so it was obviously the film-makers' intention for "Amer" to be in part a tribute to the genre - however as a film in itself it is quite clearly not a giallo, being located somewhere between surrealism and voyeurism.

There is very little plot in the film; it consists of three vignettes from a girl's (latterly a woman's) life, and she is menaced by her surroundings in all of them. The pace is lingering and the dialogue minimal, for the real attraction of "Amer" is in its stunning camerawork and the exquisitely detailed scenes that the camera examines with its leisurely eye.
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on 5 November 2010
Amer follows three stages in a young womans life. The first third as a little girl haunted by the strange old woman living at her house (either a relative or housekeeper) and is reminiscent of argento classics inferno and suspiria in terms of the hallucinatory atmosphere. In the second act we see Amer as a nubile young teenage girl, attracting the attention of the local men in a sequence that plays a lot like european classics such as Valerie and her week of wonders, while the third act follows the now paranoid and sexually demented Amer alone in her decaying family home stalked by a would-be rapist and a black gloved starnger with a straight razor, in sequeces clearly influenced by classic giallo (the soundtacks to which amer uses throughout to great effect)
I caught this film at the Grim up north film festival and loved it, but its worth pointing out it managed to divide the audience nearly in two. Theres no real PLOT to amer, its more a hallucinatory surrealistic psychological character study of a young womans breakdown made by someone clearly a fan of euro-horror. The lack of any strong narrative perhaps alienated the audience somewhat and Amer is certainly one to approach with caution but as a euro horror fan I loved it and will certainly be buying it about the best comparisons I can think of for this film are footprints Footprints [DVD] [1974]Baba Yaga [1973] [DVD]Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (Remastered edition) [1970] [DVD] and perhaps suspiria Suspiria [1976] 2 Disc Special Edition [DVD]
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on 17 October 2014
Infamously, the programme notes at the National Film Theatre always find something to praise about the film. If the acting, script, editing and direction are all rubbish, they talk about the visual style and sound design being good. I saw this on the Horror Channel rather than there, but I have no doubt that the notes for this do just that.

You could watch the first 15 minutes, skip an hour to the end, and miss absolutely nothing of importance or - worse - interest.

It starts off well enough, with a young girl in a house with a couple (her parents?), a dying older relative, a housekeeper and.. someone or something else. With visual ideas - such as partly shooting through a clear lightbulb, hello Dario Argento - and very little dialogue over the soundtrack taken from 1970s Giallo films, it leads you to think that something interesting is going to happen. It doesn't.

At some point, she sees the couple having sex. That's shot in a style reminiscent of the 'money shot' in Behind the Green Door. At another point, she possibly masturbates. After she's possibly orgasmed, an insect comes out of her navel. (Remind anyone else of Un Chien Andalou?)

After an hour of close-ups, multiple shots of the same thing, nice landscapes and nothing happening ('The second part loses the momentum a bit', says one reviewer on IMDb), the character - now a woman - returns to the now abandoned house of the opening. There she probably masturbates in the bath before discovering that the taxi driver who brought her is around. Are those the only two there? Oh, no they're not. Something finally happens, but by this point you no longer care. The very final shot is something you might miss, literally a blink of the eye.

Another review on IMDb that calls this a '90 minute perfume commercial' and that basically sums it up. Best watched in very tiny sections, with no expectation of anything beyond visual style (stolen from better films) with a nice soundtrack (ditto).
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Whilst Amer has been compared to the giallo genre, the surrealist imagery and sexual undercurrents struck me as far more Lynchian in their execution. In terms of look and feel, there is more of Eraserhead or Twin Peaks in Amer than anything from the Argento canon.

Amer runs for a shade over 90 minutes, but with several scenes played out in painfully slow real time and with a fragmented and confusing narrative, it comes perilously close to overstaying its welcome.

Visually, Amer is certainly very striking though and the soundtrack is memorable. The violence, when it comes, is convincingly nasty and you'll probably spot a hefty hat-tip to Un Chien d'Andalou.

If art-house surrealism, with a dash of torture-porn thrown in, floats your boat, then Amer certainly ticks all the boxes. If, however, as the blurb suggested you thought you were about to watch something akin to Profondo Rosso or The Bird With the Crystal Plumage, then you may well feel short-changed by this, initially fascinating, occasionally intriguing, but ultimately frustrating movie.
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on 7 December 2014
I bought this for three pounds after reading a rave 5 star review by Time Out submitted in a fit of reviewer pretension. The best thing that you can say for this almost dialogue-free and plotless film is how effectively it manages to copy the style of classic Argento, hence the reason why it's also eulogised in Alan Jones nonetheless well-written sleevenotes. But if Argento had made this movie, it would have been disregarded by his fans as completely lacking in any substance. Almost nothing happens, which contravenes the rules for making a purely surrealistic movie. A la The Brothers Quay, your images must be interesting; there has to be some level of creativity involved. In this, there isn't any. There are three good scenes, where the heroine is walking down a beach to the backdrop of what I assume is a Morricone soundtrack lifted from another film, the bit where the older Ana's breast pops out in the taxi, and the final murder, which is directed and shot with real flair. The rest of the film is visual wallpaper. Four shorts make up the extras, but only the first of those, a rather grisly piece called Catharsis, is any good. One of the most criminally overrated movies of its year.
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on 6 February 2012
This is without question an artful production, which in some ways is what makes it so infuriating. A slavish tribute to fashionable cult genre filmmaking, it is a definitive triumph of style over substance - a movie that looks beautiful but lacks any real soul or purpose of its own - simultaneously highly sophisticated and profoundly stupid. While some cult film fanatics adored this, I confess that I struggled to stay awake - and I would count myself as a pretty dedicated cult horror veteran.

Approach with caution...
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on 2 March 2011
I'm an avid collector of giallos and was looking forward to this movie with great anticipation. It seemed like those who reviewed it from film festival screenings were hailing it as an 'authentic' giallo that was a flawless return to that particular style of movie making.
Well, AMER is a very difficult movie to critique properly because it is actually a unique 'movie' which doesn't adhere to a coherent narrative. While it is beautiful to look at there is no way to know exactly what is going on. It's much more 'David Lynch' than 'Dario Argento'. While it's certainly steeped in the stylistic flourishes of 70s giallos it's more like 'giallo fantasia' than a giallo proper; a flashy cinematic love letter to the stylistic staples of the genre, without the engaging mystery. There is very little dialog whatsoever. There is also only one really violent murder in the movie and it happens to a man (were the filmmakers afraid to glamorously depict the giallo's trademark misogyny?)
While the opening scenes are compelling (heavily emphasized in the trailers), the rest of the movie unfortunately is not as consistent or engaging and the finale is sorely lacking. Another crucial element of giallos is the music. With the exception of the main theme song most of AMER's soundtrack is comprised of tracks directly lifted from the soundtracks several 70s giallos! Some giallo purists will no doubt find this unforgivable.
Overall AMER is a beautiful collection of images which is unfortunately hampered by a constantly profound approach to ANYTHING & EVERYTHING! Even the most mundane things are emphasized with menacing close-ups (forearm hairs, ears, etc). I'm even a fan of David Lynch's films but AMER seems to have been directed by someone only obsessed with Lynch's uncanny eye for the bizarre, while overlooking his brilliant inclusion of profound meanings. AMER is much too obsessed with nonsensical whims to allow a compelling story to develop. It's more of a flashy experimental indie film than an authentic portrayal of the sublime sophistication in a great giallo. As long as you know what you're getting into you might really enjoy this gorgeous, initially compelling, ultimately senseless oddity. Unfortunately I was expecting to see a great giallo.
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VINE VOICEon 1 April 2011
Cinema's rich and varied history often provides inspiration for contemporary filmmakers. A few offer a new take on particular genres that add to and enhance what has gone before. For instance Far from Heaven (Todd Haynes, 2002) is a fabulous homage to 1950s Hollywood melodrama. Similarly Catet/Forzani takes the ingredients of the Italian giallo and mixes them with an acute sensitivity to the genre that, for me, makes Amer one of the best giallo inspired movies to date. As with Far from Heaven, Amer is loyal to its source but with a perceptibly modern twist. This is the art of the filmmaker and Catet/Forzani superbly exploits the exploitation of the originals: titillation, mystery, suspense and gore. The film dispenses with plot (which in the originals barely matter) and adopts a dreamlike, ambiguous milieu of set pieces accompanied by a brilliant giallo music score. For me this was ingenious and completely engrossing.
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on 7 November 2010
I saw this movie at the London Fright Fest back in August. Whilst it's certainly a film that should be seen in the cinema fist if you can, it's appearance on Blu-ray is more than welcome. If you love horror movies, specifically the old Giallo's of Argento and the like, or even if you just love movies as an experience. Then this is an experience like no other. Better to be seen rather than described. Everyone deserves to see this film. Can't recommend it enough.
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