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film review
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A scene from Let the Corpses Tan.1996-98 AccuSoft Inc., All right/Courtesy of TIFF

  • Let the Corpses Tan
  • Directed and written by: Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani
  • Classification: N/A
  • 92 minutes


3 out of 4 stars

After robbing an armoured truck, killing at least three guards and making off with 250 kilograms in gold bars, a group of thieves retreat to a ruined villa on the edge of the Mediterranean, where things go terribly wrong. The film turns into a siege movie after a pair of cops shows up – an art-house siege movie, mind you, with nods to grindhouse and spaghetti westerns – with a father, mother, son and their nanny caught in the middle of an increasingly brutal shootout, which lasts into the night. The film’s use of time is clever; a clock keeps track as the minutes tick by, and scenes are sometimes replayed from multiple perspectives, providing a fuller understanding of events. There’s crossing and double-crossing, uneasy alliances and many, many deaths. What makes this hyperstylized film, based on French author Jean-Pierre Bastid’s 1971 novel, even more jarring is that this all takes place among some of the most gorgeous surroundings imaginable – the colours pop like the gunshots. It’s a profoundly weird film but hypnotic nonetheless.

Let the Corpses Tan opens in Toronto Oct. 5

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