If you like your gangster movies to be bat-guano crazy, the sun-baked and blood-drenched French/Belgian entry “Let the Corpses Tan” might be right up your alley. If you prefer something a little more coherent, this movie can’t help you.
Let me see if I can summarize the story, because it kind of goes all over the place. There’s a remote villa on the ocean, with stone ruins of an ancient village, that’s the retreat of Luce (Elina Löwensohn), an artist whose prime medium is shooting paintballs at canvases.
For an out-of-the-way place, though, this villa gets more traffic than Times Square. First off, Max (Marc Barbé) has been holed up there, trying to loosen his writer’s block. A mob lawyer (Michelangelo Marchese) has been prepping the place for the arrival of Rhino (Stéphane Ferrara) and his crew, who are carrying more than 500 pounds in stolen gold bars. Along the way, Rhino and crew pick up Melanie (Dorylia Calmel), Max’s wife, their son (Bamba Forzani Ndiaye), and their nanny, Pia (Marine Sainsily), because the crooks fear they may have seen something. And a pair of motorcycle cops (Hervé Sogne and former porn star Dominique Troyes) arrive, hot on Rhino’s trail.
This is all just foreplay. The writer-director team of Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani art-direct this story to within an inch of their lives, inspired by ‘70s “spaghetti Westerns” for a look of glistening bodies sweating in the hot sun — and often getting shot at by the crooks. The gunplay is so fierce and frequent that it’s easy to get confused about who’s shooting who and why.
The one standout among the hot and bothered cast is Löwensohn, who plays Luce with the same jaded sensuality Marlene Dietrich had in her later days. It’s a far cry from Löwensohn’s early days, when the Romanian actor played a vampire in Michael Almereyda’s “Nadja,” had a brief but memorable turn in “Schindler’s List,” and was Jerry’s gymnast girlfriend on an episode of “Seinfeld.”
“Let the Corpses Tan” is gorgeous to look at, from the kinetic gun battles to the stylized depictions of a gold-painted nude model invading Max’s dreams. It may not make a lick of sense, but it’s got eye candy for days.
‘Let the Corpses Tan’
Opened August 31 in select cities; opens Friday, Sept. 21, at the Tower Theatre (Salt Lake City). Not rated, but probably R for bloody violence, graphic nudity and language. Running time: 90 minutes. In French, with subtitles.