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Old 09-24-17, 11:40 PM   #1
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"Amer" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge





Amer (2009)



Selected by ororama



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These "October Horror Movie Challenge" threads are for the discussion of the films in the 31 FILM SUBSET list.

The plan is for everyone to watch this film on the October day in the thread title, and to start discussing it the morning of the following day.
You may start discussion early if you want, but the preferred plan is for this to be as much of a group exercise as possible, with all of us viewing it "together" and discussing after.

Of course, you are totally encouraged to participate in these threads even if you haven't watched the movie on the designated day.
Even if you haven't watched it in years, or are not participating in the Horror Challenge, please feel free to chime in.



Spoiler tags aren't always used in here, so if you have yet to see the film BEWARE OF POSSIBLE SPOILERS.
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Old 10-03-17, 07:49 AM   #2
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Re: "Amer" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

Will someone please explain what the heck this was about? Was that ending supposed to be like Jacob's Ladder? It is filmed beautifully, like a color wheel of emotions, but I did not understand it at all.
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Old 10-03-17, 08:23 AM   #3
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Re: "Amer" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

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Originally Posted by Gobear View Post
Will someone please explain what the heck this was about? Was that ending supposed to be like Jacob's Ladder? It is filmed beautifully, like a color wheel of emotions, but I did not understand it at all.
I watched a little less than half this morning, and I'm still not entirely sure. Won't be able to finish it before this evening when I get home. Hopefully by then this place will be hopping.
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Old 10-03-17, 10:06 AM   #4
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Re: "Amer" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

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Originally Posted by Gobear View Post
Will someone please explain what the heck this was about? Was that ending supposed to be like Jacob's Ladder? It is filmed beautifully, like a color wheel of emotions, but I did not understand it at all.
No idea. It did it's job in that I'm still thinking about it today after viewing it last night, but I wouldn't consider it a good movie by any means. I thought the segment when she was a kid was effective, but everything else was pointless. It felt like someone was trying to make an art film, but forgot to write an actual story.
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Old 10-03-17, 10:18 AM   #5
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Re: "Amer" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

Itís been a few years since I saw this. I quite enjoyed it, but itís certainly not a movie for everyone (and even then, you really have to be in the right frame of mind). There are horror elements, but I wouldnít really call it a horror movie. And I think this is more for the art house crowd than the horror crowd.

Like I said, itís been a while. But what from I remembered (in watching and other online discussions), generally the movie can be thought of as being entirely metaphorical about the maturation of a woman. From childhood terrors, to burgeoning sexuality at adolescence, to finally the pitfalls and dangers of sexual maturity. Thereís not really any linear plot in the movie. I thought the look and sounds of the movie were great.
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Old 10-03-17, 10:29 AM   #6
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Re: "Amer" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

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Originally Posted by brainee View Post
Itís been a few years since I saw this. I quite enjoyed it, but itís certainly not a movie for everyone (and even then, you really have to be in the right frame of mind). There are horror elements, but I wouldnít really call it a horror movie. And I think this is more for the art house crowd than the horror crowd.

Like I said, itís been a while. But what from I remembered (in watching and other online discussions), generally the movie can be thought of as being entirely metaphorical about the maturation of a woman. From childhood terrors, to burgeoning sexuality at adolescence, to finally the pitfalls and dangers of sexual maturity. Thereís not really any linear plot in the movie. I thought the look and sounds of the movie were great.
Pretty much exactly this.

My mood at the time of watching let me really enjoy the experience, but all the stars aligned to allow that. Any other time, I'd probably have appreciated bits of it but largely thought it a meandering waste of time.

Nice little interview with the filmmakers in Rue Morgue #109.
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Old 10-03-17, 10:50 AM   #7
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Re: "Amer" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

D'oh! I watched the film of the movie poster, and didn't even read the title of the Subset pick. Oh, well, it fit the theme at least. Now onto the correct movie.
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Old 10-03-17, 04:53 PM   #8
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Re: "Amer" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

This film may become my exhibit A for "style over substance". A plotless, pointless arthouse film that would have made even Jess Franco blush at all of the extreme close ups.
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Old 10-03-17, 05:15 PM   #9
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Re: "Amer" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

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Originally Posted by numbercrunch View Post
This film may become my exhibit A for "style over substance". A plotless, pointless arthouse film that would have made even Jess Franco blush at all of the extreme close ups.
Oh, you don't even know... Watch their movie they made after this (The Strange Color Of Your Body's Tears). Makes this one seem like a Steven Spielberg project.
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Old 10-03-17, 06:43 PM   #10
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Re: "Amer" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

Not exactly sure what I just watched, and yet it pulled me into the movie and had me mesmerized from start to finish. I will need to watch this again at some point to try and figure out just what it was that fascinated me so much...perhaps I like arthouse more than I thought, but that can't be the only reason can it?
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Old 10-03-17, 06:55 PM   #11
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Re: "Amer" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

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Oh, you don't even know... Watch their movie they made after this (The Strange Color Of Your Body's Tears). Makes this one seem like a Steven Spielberg project.
LOL, unfortunately I have seen that one too!
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Old 10-03-17, 08:02 PM   #12
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Re: "Amer" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

Twelve hour workday today, but I did manage to get in Mad Doctor of Blood Island, or something like that. Now I've got to finish up Amer, and I can tell it's going to be a real slog the rest of the night.
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Old 10-03-17, 08:10 PM   #13
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Re: "Amer" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

I gave up on this one halfway through. I just couldn't get into it. It looked pretty, but it made no sense.

It's like someone gathered the most vivid scenes from Dario Argento's movies, dumped them into a blender, then splattered the goop on film and called it art.
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Old 10-03-17, 08:25 PM   #14
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Re: "Amer" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

Say what you about the film itself ...best. trailer. ever.



Quote:
Originally Posted by 3onameathook View Post
Not exactly sure what I just watched, and yet it pulled me into the movie and had me mesmerized from start to finish. I will need to watch this again at some point to try and figure out just what it was that fascinated me so much...perhaps I like arthouse more than I thought, but that can't be the only reason can it?
That was pretty much my exact reaction to my second viewing a few years back. I wasn't especially fond of it the first go-around, so no regrets giving it another shot.
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Old 10-04-17, 12:11 AM   #15
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Re: "Amer" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

Ok, I actually really enjoyed this one. I'm a big fan of visually driven movies that challenge the viewers to keep up with the symbolism. I think it's unfair to just dismiss a movie like this as a director doing a lot of arty shit to be praised for their intellect, as if they didn't put a lot of thought into the symbolism and artistic decisions they made. After watching a lot of weird, arthouse movies I've learned that you have to look for repetition. When there's not much dialogue we have to understand that other elements are telling the story, namely light, color and sound, and there's a ton of symbolic repetition in those elements. I'm writing this just after finishing the movie for the first time. I hope it makes sense.

My understanding is that this is a movie about a girl who was a victim of sexual assault, and the movie is about her trying to escape that shadow that lives inside her, and ultimately failing. An important symbol is the color red, which I think represents passion and/or or life. Green is used as a contrast to this, and might represent death.

There are three major time jumps in the movie, each act showing a different part of Ana's life. The first act follows Ana as a girl, and it opens with her parents discovering that she's murdered a bird, and it might not be the first time. This could be her acting out in response to her trauma. Her grandfather has recently died, and is shrouded in green light whenever we see him. He's my number one suspect for her assault, she seems morbidly obsessed with his corpse, but also afraid of it. In the only dark moment of humor of the film, she tries to pry a chain from his fingers only to stop when she sees a cross. But she winds up using this to crowbar his fingers open, breaking them in the process.

Gloves are another important symbol in the movie. Graziella wears long, black gloves and spends much of the time tormenting Ana and clawing after her. We're never told explicitly if she's a maid or what, but I think the fact that we only see her gloved hands is important. Note that Ana is wearing black gloves in the climax of the film.

In one scene an obscene amount of water is leaking around her bed, and the walls are a vivid, blood red. This is likely symbolic for her first period, and the amount of liquid seems so high because her confusion and embarrassment of the situation. I think it's no coincidence that this scene follows a moment where she discovers her parents having sex. Her mother is draped in red, while Ana is drowning in green light. The visuals seem to be disturbing Ana. This jumps to a sequence where lens distortions make Ana's body seem like it's stretching. So this would be puberty and the end of childhood. An ant crawls out of her navel, and this is a visual motif that will come into play again at the end of the movie.

During the second act, I would say Ana is a teenager. Her mother still seems strict, forcing her to hold hands, and mom definitely seems aware, even jealous perhaps, of all the attention young Ana is now getting. I watched this movie with headphones on which helped me focus on how important the sound design was for this movie. Wind seemed to represent sexual arousal. Ana's hair blows in the wind right before she struts in front of the bikers, a moment where she seems excited by the attention, but also frightened of the men. Later in the film, Ana takes a cab and opens the window, as the wind blows across her skin she imagines her clothes being ripped off on their own.

Throughout the entire film she sees an eye peering at her through a keyhole. This is probably a moment from her childhood where she noticed her Grandfather spying on her. Whenever we see it we also hear the pained breathing that accompanies the Grandfather scenes from earlier in the movie, and which we hear during her assault at the end of the movie. The eye in the keyhole is also symbolic of the fact that her trauma follows her everywhere she goes. It's contrasted with the male gaze she gets from all of the men around her in the second and third acts, they are openly ogling her, where the eye through the keyhole seems much more sinister. Either way she's uncomfortable with it every time it happens.

In a third act sequence, she fills the bathtub by masturbating with the comb. Suddenly a man attacks her and you could say she is drowning in her own sexual desire at this moment. Because of her experiences as a child, sex will always be traumatizing for her.

During the climax, no pun intended, her cab driver is attempting to break into her house to assault her. As she flees, a second pair of gloved hands chokes her. I think these are her own hands, at the very end we see her wearing the same gloves. It looks like an attacker is dragging her through the woods, but it also looks like she's pleasuring herself. It's interesting to note that there's very little wind here. A few scenes earlier, we saw her trip as a spider jumps on her, and her hand is covered in something that looks a lot more like semen than spiderweb. As she chokes herself, the spider and the ant(remember from earlier?) crawl across her body. She rubs the blade across her teeth and eventually kills the ant. The ant must represent something along the lines of a normal, healthy sex life. The spider is much more visually nefarious, and we can guess what that would represent instead.

She kills the man who is trying to assault her, but she hasn't escaped anything. The shadowy figure is standing right behind her. She runs but he keeps appearing in front of her, around her. She's disoriented, he's on all sides of her. This isn't an actual person, but the representation of the trauma she's been trying to escape her entire life. She finally kills it with the only way to destroy it for good, suicide. We jump to her corpse on a cold, sterile table. There's dried blood on her wrists and we get a glimpse of a wedding ring, showing that she made an attempt at some point of leading a normal life, but eventually realized that was impossible. Heartbreaking. And I think it's no coincidence that the director ended the movie with the mortician dolling her up with lipstick and pawing her naked corpse. In the very last moment of the movie, she opens her eyes, because in death, she is free.

From that interpretation I would absolutely call it horror.
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Old 10-04-17, 07:40 AM   #16
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Re: "Amer" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

I've noticed a lot of very narrow interpretations of horror in the threads lately.
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Old 10-04-17, 07:55 AM   #17
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Re: "Amer" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

I think DaveyJoe's explanation of Amer is plausible, but i still think the film is equivalent to watching C Span for 2 hours.
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Old 10-04-17, 10:34 AM   #18
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Re: "Amer" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

I was really tired when I decided to try to watch this. I crashed out after about 30 minutes. A couple hours later, I stir and decide to start the movie again where I left off. I'm only partially awake, and that sort of dream state did nothing to make the movie make more sense to me.

At times, I quite liked it visually, but I could have done without so many extreme closeups. That got out of hand.

I appreciate DaveyJoe admirably making any attempt to explain the movie. I think it's a great explanation for it.

I've owned the movie for a while without viewing it, so I'm happy this was selected. It's one that might be really interesting to revisit knowing better what to expect.
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Old 10-04-17, 11:42 AM   #19
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Re: "Amer" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

As I was watching Amer, I was thinking, "We've found this Challenge's Killer Tongue." Actually, it's not that bad, but it certainly doesn't make any more sense than KT does.

I appreciate DaveyJoe's explanation, as it helps make sense of the film, but my feeling is that symbolism should be used as subtext to deepen a film's meaning. In Amer, the subtext becomes the primary text, with nothing concrete left for the audience to use as a way into the film. I mean, a film can be heavy with symbolism and still have a plot that can be followed by the average viewer; the majority of Alfred Hitchcock's films are chock full of it. I feel that Amer, on the other hand, is a textbook example of what Woody Allen in Annie Hall called "mental masturbation."

I'm not saying the film is without merits; I'm just saying that if it had coupled all of its symbolism with even the barest of plots it would have been a much better film. I sure did love the music, though--did anyone else notice that it all came from old Italian movie soundtracks?
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Old 10-04-17, 11:56 AM   #20
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Re: "Amer" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

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As I was watching Amer, I was thinking, "We've found this Challenge's Killer Tongue." Actually, it's not that bad, but it certainly doesn't make any more sense than KT does.

I appreciate DaveyJoe's explanation, as it helps make sense of the film, but my feeling is that symbolism should be used as subtext to deepen a film's meaning. In Amer, the subtext becomes the primary text, with nothing concrete left for the audience to use as a way into the film. I mean, a film can be heavy with symbolism and still have a plot that can be followed by the average viewer; the majority of Alfred Hitchcock's films are chock full of it. I feel that Amer, on the other hand, is a textbook example of what Woody Allen in Annie Hall called "mental masturbation."

I'm not saying the film is without merits; I'm just saying that if it had coupled all of its symbolism with even the barest of plots it would have been a much better film. I sure did love the music, though--did anyone else notice that it all came from old Italian movie soundtracks?
I STILL have yet to see Killer Tongue, but I didn't hate Amer like the passion that is shown to KT in this forum. You definitely need to be in the right frame of mind to watch it and I may try again when I'm not shooting to watch as much horror as I can.
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Old 10-04-17, 02:33 PM   #21
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Re: "Amer" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

As part of someones review on IMDB put it, " it's like a 90 minute perfume commercial".
I guess I just didn't get it, and definitely wasn't in the right mood to watch it.
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Old 10-04-17, 04:29 PM   #22
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Re: "Amer" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

Movies like this give back exactly what you put in. If you're watching it passively and expecting a third act reveal to put all the pieces into place, it's not going to happen. I see movies like this as a puzzle, I like the challenge of interpreting the symbolism and figuring out what it means to me. You have to be in the right frame of mind though, and I can understand why it might be a frustrating watch sandwiched between Leprechaun 4 and Lights Out.

I can't agree that the movie was plotless though, there are many ways to tell a story, and none of them are right or wrong. Decades ago, audiences were resistant to talkies because they lacked the artistry of silent pictures, but now we can't imagine having it any other way. It's interesting how just a couple days ago were discussing how the original The Blob feels overly talky by today's standards. I wouldn't be surprised if we start seeing more movies like this, relying on visual storytelling as younger people crave more stimulation and less dialogue.

I don't see how exposition of Ana being assaulted would have enhanced the experience. For me, the unique editing and vivid colors are what made the movie so special. It was only my first time watching it, yet I put together a pretty good theory for what the movie was about. A big part of that is experience watching arthouse movies with a visual storytelling aesthetic, and I had even watched Eraserhead just on Saturday, so I was primed, so to speak. If it had been a craft beer night I may not have grasped as much as I did. And there are still things I wasn't sure about, the importance of the pocket watch was one thing that went over my head. But that's okay, the experience itself was quite compelling, and I'm glad I was exposed to it.


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I've noticed a lot of very narrow interpretations of horror in the threads lately.
I wish we'd stop trying to kick thought-provoking art pictures out of our genre.
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Old 10-04-17, 06:56 PM   #23
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Re: "Amer" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

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For me, the unique editing and vivid colors are what made the movie so special. It was only my first time watching it, yet I put together a pretty good theory for what the movie was about. A big part of that is experience watching arthouse movies with a visual storytelling aesthetic, and I had even watched Eraserhead just on Saturday, so I was primed, so to speak. If it had been a craft beer night I may not have grasped as much as I did. And there are still things I wasn't sure about, the importance of the pocket watch was one thing that went over my head. But that's okay, the experience itself was quite compelling, and I'm glad I was exposed to it.

I wish we'd stop trying to kick thought-provoking art pictures out of our genre.
I agree about the editing and the bold, primary colors--the first part of the film, when Ana was a child, was for me the best part, mainly due to the color gymnastics that the filmmakers indulged in. Did anybody else feel that there was a quick homage to Behind the Green Door in there?

I really hated the middle part of the film with the teen-aged Ana. I thought that she was fairly weird-looking (and not in a pleasant way), which left me feeling probably exactly the opposite of what the filmmakers intended that I feel toward the character. This part of the film could have been called "Act II: Walking, Breathing, Close-ups of Eyes, and More Walking."

I certainly don't mind thought-provoking art films in horror (if we're kicking things out of the genre, my vote goes to 90% of the dreck that Full Moon/Empire, the Asylum, and Troma have shoveled out: I'm looking at YOU, GingerDead Man!), and I'd much rather have more films like Amer than like C.H.U.D....yet I'd bet that over half of the participants in the Challenge this year wouldn't agree with me on one or both of those points. Sometimes we just have to admit that "thought-provoking" to one viewer can mean "sleep-inducing" to another, and that neither of them is necessarily wrong.
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Old 10-05-17, 12:03 PM   #24
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Re: "Amer" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

I liked the close ups of eyes in the second act. I've heard women complain about the 'male gaze' before and thought it might have been an overblown concept, but this was this first time I've seen it portrayed in a way that made me uncomfortable.

But yeah, to each their own. I dozed off during C.H.U.D. and Mad Monster Party but this movie held my full attention. It takes all kinds. That's the best part of the subset list, it pulls us out of our comfort zones.
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Old 10-09-17, 04:28 PM   #25
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Re: "Amer" Reviews/Discussion - 2017 Horror Challenge

I remember thinking Amer looked really cool with the obvious giallo style and homages but it never seemed very available so I was glad to get to check it out. I really like the surreal ‘story’telling style here focusing on visceral themes rather than words or traditional plot but it’s really jarring to go into it not expecting this style of film.

My favorite scene was the one with the cab driver with the over the top implied sexuality ripping off her dress without even touching her. The knife scene was surprisingly gruesome.

I like DaveyJoe's interpretation but I'm not sure I agree that she was specifically sexually assaulted. I thought the character was just struggling with repressed sexuality. What I got out of it was that her her father was possibly cheating with Graziella leading to the mother having a resentful relationship towards the daughter and sexuality in general that gets imposed on the character (like when the mother slaps her around the bikers). The mother having a belt with clasped hands similar to the dead old man's clasped hands seems possibly relevant (if there was a sexual trauma maybe it was from this old man, otherwise I cannot see how he's relevent). There is some focus on hands throughout the movie, with the cab driver's gloves and the autopsy table at the end. It seems like the mother just disappears at some point in the film, the character being in her seemingly vacant family home maybe represents her longing for a mother who is just not there. It's hard to tell if the kill is even really or if it's another psychosexual image symbolizing the characters reaction to sexuality or other people in general (maybe the knife scene was even meant to symbolize her negative view towards her marriage, that it's a sexual death something she longs for but cannot be satisfied with just like her mother was never satisfied with her father). The early scene of her being flooded and her death scene both have water symbolism, which I think suggests the anxiety surrounding sexuality to the point of equating it with death. Very often the character is shown alone. There's definitely meat here for interpretation.

Next time I’m at work (an office job) I’m going to try to imagine whatever mundane crap that happens in the most surreal thematic imagery possible, Amer style.
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