In this final chapter, elements of the masochist aesthetic that have been peripheral to discussions so far will move to a more prominent position. Specifically: fantasy and the heterocosmic impulse, the necessity of thinking the spectator of these often difficult images in terms of embodiment, and the relationship of these aspects to the Bataillian ethos of inner experience and philosophical thought. The primary film called upon to catalyse these explorations will be Amer, written and directed by Belgian pair Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani and released in 2009. The distorted images and hallucinatory colour, Goblin-esque soundtrack and themes of desire and death place this film in the lineage of Italian gialli cinema by directors such Mario Bava, in addition to the mystery thrillers of Dario Argento (for example, Suspiria and Deep Red ). These earlier cinematic tropes and forms are used as a broad framework within which to create a portrayal of female subjectivity, desire and fantasy that is expressed through an avant-garde and tactile aesthetic. Dialogue and plot are minimal and the unconventional structure consists of three sections held together by central character Ana. Each section depicts a sequence from, in turn, her childhood, her teenage years, and her adult life and death – an end ambiguously portrayed as perhaps real, perhaps fantasy within the space of the film. Amer can also be located in relation to female masochistic subjectivity and the films addressed in previous chapters, particularly with regard to its transgressive cinematic form and evocation of a Bataillian erotic continuity through the allure of the perilously sensual. The notion of Ana as a masochistic character is not explicitly foregrounded for, indeed, the enigmatic strategies of the film mean that nothing can be certain apart from the movement of the images themselves. Instead, the suggestion of masochistic desire emerges over the duration of the film through Ana’s embodied and highly sensual experiences which are pleasurable, painful, at times disturbing, but always erotically charged. A consideration of the aesthetic of Amer requires further attention be given to the question of spectatorship and masochism in the context of the potential for masochistic forms and themes to generate an ethical and open mode of film viewing. MacCormack’s concept of ‘cinemasochism’ from her book Cinesexuality provides an evocative starting point for these connections:

To some extent, this can be conceived of as a development of the debates explored in Chapter 4. Breillat’s cinema, it was argued, constructs the spectatorial experience in terms of an oscillation between unpleasure and (sometimes surprising) pleasure, while In the Cut provides a brief glance of a ‘disarticulated’ or disjointed expression of cinematic language. Amer, largely freed from the constraints of plot, characterization and verisimilitude, is able to take these aesthetic and ethical techniques further and in doing so shifts the spectator’s cinematic encounter into the realm of the ‘submission to the image’ that MacCormack refers to. Through the visceral and tactile sensations with which the film is imbued, the viewer is opened up to the shifting processes of affect and fantasy and to their own cinemasochistic experience.