Bertrand Mandico (The Wild Boys) is the writer and director of After Blue, or to give it its full name After Blue (Dirty Paradise). He is also, along with Katrin Olafsdottir the author of the Incoherence Manifesto. And after watching this film I can’t think of a more fitting name for his approach to cinema.
The film, described as a “queer sci-fi fantasy romance”, is set in the future, long after mankind has left Earth and settled on the planet After Blue. The planet is populated entirely by women, the men having all died from excessive hair growth. No, I didn’t make that up.
One day Roxy, Toxic to her friends, (Paula Luna) goes to the beach with said friends, she finds a woman buried up to her neck, left to drown when the tide comes in. She digs the woman out only to find out she has freed the serial killer Kate Bush (Agata Buzek, The Man with the Magic Box, Dune Dreams) who promptly kills her friends. She and her mother Zora (Elina Löwensohn, Knife + Heart, Where to Land) are blamed for her crimes and banished until such time as they can bring her back, dead not alive.
Before I go any further, let me suggest you scroll down and watch the trailer to try to get an idea of what After Blue looks like. Because trying to describe it really isn’t going to get the full picture across. Don’t worry about spoilers, the film would need to have a plot for that. And while After Blue has a story, or at least the outline of one, calling it a plot would be stretching the word’s meaning to the breaking point.
We follow Roxy and Zora on their journey and their interactions with the planet’s other inhabitants form an episodic kind of narrative. It reminded me of El Topo with its bizarre, seemingly drug-fueled story of a quest driven by the need to kill. The two film’s running times are even within minutes of each other, After Blue runs two hours and seven minutes, two minutes longer than Jodorowsky’s acid western.
It may not be entirely accurate to call After Blue a Western in space but there is little that could be called technology and horses are the main mode of transportation. Add in scenes of Roxy and her mother crossing a desert and it really starts to look like one.
But almost none of it makes any sense, as if Mandico was only interested in how the film looked, not if it made sense. And there’s no doubt about it, After Blue does look incredible with its bizarre sets and landscapes bathed in colored lighting. And if you’re a fan of cinematic nudity there are plenty of good-looking women running around in the buff as well.
But that wasn’t enough to hold my attention for over two hours and by the ninety-minute mark, I was getting restless. I’m fairly sure however that the audience for After Blue is most likely going to be much more arthouse-oriented than I am and may well find the film’s vagueness an asset and point of discussion. But for me, it was like being with a beautiful but vapid woman, initially fun but ultimately a less than wonderful experience.
Altered Innocence will open After Blue in select cities on June 3rd before rolling it out across the US. You can check their website for the current list of cities and dates. But you may want to wait for streaming and Blu-ray availability because this will probably play much better if you’re tripping as hard as the film’s makers were when they made it. Looking for something similar to After Blue? You can check with FilmTagger for suggestions.