Ruined Heart: Another Love Story Between A Criminal & A Whore

Philippine director Khavn De La Cruz collaborates with Wong-Kar Wai alumni DP Christopher Doyle for Third Windows latest in an exceptionally difficult film to pigeon-hole due its outright evasion of genre convention. On its surface, Ruined Heart: Another Love Story between a Criminal & a Whore is a musical only one with a highly experimental style, exceptionally sparse narrative and even less dialogue. Exposition and context are at a bare minimum, even something as basic as character introductions are done via a skittish police line-up; from that early interval Khavn’s Manila slum is drenched in music, decadence and a hallucinatory linearity.

Playing second fiddle to the aesthetic overload composed by Khavn, Doyle and German musical outfit Stereo Total – plot is thread bare. As far as one can ascertain in this almost dialogue-free film, the Hooker (Nathalia Acevedo) goes on the run with the Criminal (Tadanobu Asano) after he leaves a victim lying lifeless in a pool of his own blood. As the hooker and Criminal elope a threat comes from deep within the Manila slums from a Godfather who features in one of the musical numbers poetically chanting “I am the world poem.” Simply more of a sensory experience that one dictated by story.

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At only 60 minutes Ruined Heart is an odd film of that there’s no doubt. Third Window Films has never released anything like this before and it’s unlikely that they ever will again thanks to the absolute singularity of Khavn De La Cruz’ voice. The best way to describe it would be as mix of music videos edited together featuring an interlinked subtext and consistent narrative. Again returning to that surface; questions are begged as to who would get the most of out a film with such avant-garde pretensions, dig beneath that however and you’ll find a film of striking beauty.

Ironically for a film shot by one of the world’s finest DoPs in Christopher Doyle, the beauty isn’t simply one captured on camera. Much of his cinematography is hand-held lending an urgency and energy to Khavn’s Manila, even when the degeneracy goes a little too far Doyle knows exactly how it should be framed. There is a scene around the 20 minute mark that could only be described as an orgy and while that does see Khavn taking his conceit a little too far, it is bookended by a gorgeous aerial shot over the cityscape that looks as if it were cut from a Wong-Kar Wai film. Such panoramic beauty alleviates the pressure built up a scene that frankly goes too far. It would be churlish to call a static overhead panorama the best thing the film does, but that’s just how good Christopher Doyle is at his job.

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The opening 30 depict the grime and sleaze but after these two classically composed shots from an extraordinary DP, the tone of the music, ideology and the sexual aggression become more muted, more beautiful. As distasteful as the film can be in its first half, that is entirely necessary in its cause and effect; in the world of Ruined Heart there can be no beauty without the grime and the sleaze. With the passing of night comes day and gone are the sex parties, murders and violence and in its place comes hope, children away from the hives and dens the film positioned itself in prior. Stereo Total’s outstandingly eclectic score is used to evoke this geography and cinematic identity, suggesting towards the complexity of relationships with lovers and music.

Khavn De La Cruz’s Ruined Heart: Another Love Story between A Criminal & A Whore is a peculiar beast but one that delivers a spectacle of colour and sound like few others. Think a Hard Day’s Night through the lens of Gaspar Noé and you’ll be some part on the way to understanding, as spectacular as that sounds this is the very pinnacle of art-house weird, that being the case for everybody who is spellbound there’ll be someone else who finds it all rather tedious. For those who take that risk, Third Windows have accompanied their release of one of 2015’s weirdest home video releases with one of year’s best soundtracks.


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Special Features:

  • Three music-videos,
  • an audio track with the live music by stereo total at Nippon connection,
  • the short film “ruined heart” by khavn,
  • trailer,
  • “This is not a premiere” (some impressions from the Manila premiere night),
  • “This is not behind the scenes” (impressions from the sets without dialogue)

Ruined Heart is out now on Third Window Films Blu-Ray Now (Limited Edition 1000 Only)

 

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