2023’s weirdest movie was actually made over 50 years ago. H…

The Strangler – 2K Restoration Trailer (1970, Paul Vecchiali)

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that 2023 has had some strange moments. The quota of strange films was already filled in the first two months Infinity pool And skinmarkAnd this continued throughout the rest of the year with a variety of films Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse And saltburn, But all that pales in comparison to the retro dish served up by Altered Innocence, a small distribution company that just released the strangest film of 2023. strangler,

never heard of it? Me too. And there are lots of good reasons for that, the most obvious being that it was made in 1970 and never released in the US until now. Yet the film, made in France by Paul Vecchielli and starring the late Jacques Perrin as the lead assassin, is modern in its approach and storytelling. And the 2K restoration, executed by the Center National du Cinéma et de l’Image Animé (CNC) and CosmoDigital Laboratory, is so well done and pristine that it feels like a new release. Although it has its own problems, strangler This is such a unique film that it would be a crime to leave it out.

What is The Strangler about?

In The Strangler a man is walking at night.
changed innocence

The film concerns Emile, a young child in the opening prologue set in late 1940s Paris, who witnesses a man secretly strangling a young woman. weapon of choice? Emil’s white knitted scarf. Thirty years later, several young women have been murdered in the same manner, and it is immediately revealed that they were killed by Emil himself. An inspector’s televised appeal to meet the publicly unknown killer attracts the attention of Anna, a lonely young woman who is unknowingly attracted to the killer.

As the film progresses, Emil targets victims one after another and also approaches the Inspector in the vain hope of explaining his actions. He claims that he does not kill out of anger or sexual excitement, but out of a kind of compassion; All of his targets are suicidal women, and he seeks to give them a brief moment of pleasure – usually his company – just before strangling them. Include a thief who stalks Emil and steals from his victims, the Inspector’s strange attraction to Emil (which jeopardizes his career and his morality), and Anna’s relationship with both of them equally. Twist the entanglement, and you get a movie unlike any other.

What makes The Strangler so strange?

Two men wear Halloween masks in The Strangler.
changed innocence

Oh, where to begin? How about a mystery that reveals its killer in the first five minutes? Or that it’s a thriller that consistently undercuts any kind of thrill the audience would normally get in a serial killer movie like this? Or maybe it’s a horror film that doesn’t actually show that much violence and makes Emile the most sympathetic and logical character? strangler cannot technically be classified as related Any The genre, however, includes many elements. This is a film that constantly demands you to redefine it. It sounds like taxing, but strangler There’s too much poetry and quirky grace in it to feel puny.

It also features excellent cinematography, transforming Paris into an isolated, sun-lit landscape by day and a haunted ghost town at night. As he roams the streets looking for his next victim, Emil occasionally sees ghost-like figures, strange passers-by wearing Halloween masks for no reason, and menacing figures that inspire more fear than the angelic-looking Emil. Are. Georges Strouvé is behind the scenes, and he beautifully balances light and shadow, bursts of color, and almost monochromatic sequences, helping Vecchiali transform Paris into the show’s world filled with lost souls.

A woman relaxing on a swing in The Strangler.
changed innocence

strangler There’s also a musical interlude in which a middle-aged female singer whines wistfully about making herself a sailor (because why not?), a group of French prostitutes who fight tougher and dirtier than any MMA fighter. fights, and a bravura sequence where Emile witnesses (or does he?) a series of brutal attacks while walking down the street. None of this makes any logical sense and yet, based on sheer emotion alone, something like this happens. It’s very French, very different, very… well, StrangeBut in all the right ways.

flawed but worth watching

A man wearing sunglasses talking to a woman in The Strangler.
changed innocence

It’s tempting to pimp strangler As something of a surprising lost masterpiece, a film that has finally been recovered and has become worthy of the lionization of the genre. And while this Is Arresting is also deeply flawed. In the end the narrative falls apart; For all its strangeness, it asks too much of the audience to ignore logic completely. The Inspector and Anna in particular are more plot devices than characters, existing only to serve Emil’s character arc and change personalities to suit the convenience of the plot.

What’s even more disturbing is the film’s shocking attitude towards its female victims, who are murdered very gracefully. Your wish The movie seems to argue that they’re asking for it. In some ways, they are, as they are depicted as being suicidal, but the film equates being alone with loneliness and, thus, as worthy and welcome of death. This is absolute nonsense, and it’s right here strangler Feels old and regressive.

A man cries in the night in The Strangler.
changed innocence

But the film’s standout qualities are too good to ignore: the haunting cinematography; Jazzy grindhouse score by Roland Vincent, blurring genres to explore themes of loneliness and repressed sexual desire. Best of all is Perrin’s performance as Emile, who could have easily come across as an unsympathetic creep, but is instead quite possibly the most benign mass murderer you’ll ever meet. (If you do, here’s a tip: Pretend you’re happy and in a relationship.)

With his blank angelic features and sharp Mona Lisa smile, Perrin fulfilled the idea of ​​Emile as a merciful death angel who picks off his victims one by one, not out of any personal desire, but because he felt the need to live on earth. But that’s what it was meant to do. , He commits murder as a kind of civic duty, and the dark joke of the film is that in 1970s France, there were worse things than that.

strangler is playing in New York City and will play in select theaters nationwide throughout November and December. It will be available for rental and purchase at a later date.

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