You might not have heard of French director Bertrand Mandico yet, but get ready – his fantasy flicks are truly one-of-a-kind. Mandico’s got his own avant-garde style that’s super ambitious and just plain weird. His latest movie She Is Conann takes the classic Conan the Barbarian story and puts it in a blender on high.
The basic gist is that instead of some jacked dude named Conan swinging swords, the lead character is a badass warrior queen named Conann. But there’s more twists where that came from. Conann lives multiple lives across different eras from ancient times to the future. Each time she’s reborn, it’s a new actress playing her. Trippy, right?
It doesn’t stop there either. Conann’s trusty sidekick Rainer is a punk rock demon dog, and the whole vibes are off-the-charts bizarre. We’re talking gory battles, time travel shenanigans, creepy romance, and artsy pretentiousness all wrapped up together. Honestly, it sounds like an acid trip put on film.
So if you wanna take a walk on the weird side of fantasy movies, Mandico and Conann are ready to mess with your head and show you something completely bonkers. It ain’t gonna be for everyone, but open-minded gamers looking for a visual feast should absolutely give this flick a spin.
One Woman, Many Lives of Mayhem
Conann goes through a lot of crap across her many lives. It all starts when she’s a teenager and her mom gets straight up decapitated right in front of her by an evil warlord named Sanja. Young Conann understandably wants to go John Wick on Sanja, but ends up her slave instead.
Lucky for Conann, she’s got Rainer the punk puppy demon in her corner. He’s sorta like her guardian devil, sticking by her side and documenting her journey across time with his trusty camera. Rainer lives for the prophecy that Conann will embrace barbarism and violence. And there’s gonna be plenty of chances for that.
Each time Conann is reborn, she’s a little older and played by a different actress. Teen Conann tries getting revenge early on. Then Warrior Conann turns the tables on Sanja with some strategic kissing. Party Girl Conann chillin’ in 90s NYC seems to have forgotten all about barbarism – til Rainer shows up again. And Old Lady Conann? Well, let’s just say she gets the artists who eat her corpse to thank for her comeback tour.
Yeah, it gets pretty gnarly at times. Mandico doesn’t shy away from showing Conann and her foes hacking each other to pieces. But all the over-the-top gore and the time-hopping serve Mandico’s bigger goal of breaking down and reinventing the whole Conan legend. Is it confusing? Heck yes. But the wild ride sure ain’t boring.
Barbarians, Dreams, and Gender Benders
Mandico jams a heck of a lot of themes and wild style into Conann’s saga. At its core, the movie’s about different forms of barbarism. Conann’s quest starts out focused on good old-fashioned personal revenge. But her embrace of violence and betrayal takes on bigger meaning as she gets reincarnated.
Each version of Conann brings the barbarism to new levels. Is it the brutal path of a warrior unable to change? The greed of artists selling out integrity for rewards? The film keeps things ambiguous. But the sheer glee Mandico takes in painting bloody battles and butchery makes his stance crystal clear: bring on the carnage!
All the murder and mayhem happens in a freaky dreamscape that combines different eras and locations. The cinematography gives everything a hallucinatory look, whether it’s the foggy ancient ruins or neon-lit NYC streets. Sets and costumes also get wild, from furs and armor to 90’s leather jackets and party frocks.
And you can’t discuss Mandico’s style without mentioning the gender-bending. Nearly every role, including Conann’s demonic companion Rainer, is played by women. The director also plays fast and loose with relationships, featuring lesbian and non-binary characters.
The avant-garde, artsy approach means Mandico leans into pretentiousness through poetic dialogue and a non-linear structure. And he goes full meta too, forcing both Conann and the audience to question the blurry line between art and authoritarianism.
So buckle up for the crazy ride and enjoy Mandico’s glammed up house of mirrors reflecting barbarism, dreams, gender wars and more. Subtle it ain’t, but the visually stunning assault on the senses sure keeps you watching.
Does Mandico Stick the Landing?
There’s no doubt Mandico swings for the fences when it comes to wild style and crazy visuals. But does his ambitious genre mash-up come together into a satisfying whole? Or does She Is Conann collapse under its own pretensions?
The episodic structure taking us through Conann’s fragmented lives makes for a disorienting experience. Just when you get invested in one storyline, poof, it’s gone as we jump to the next era. While this keeps things unpredictable, it also means we never fully bond with Conann.
That said, individual storylines have killer moments, from teen Conann’s bloody vengeance to warrior Conann asserting her power over Sanja with sapphic passion. The two Conanns played by Christa Théret and Sandra Parfait emerge as magnetic screen presences. And you can’t forget demented puppet Rainer as Conann’s creepy failing sidekick.
As in previous freak-outs like After Blue, Mandico prioritizes overloaded visuals above narrative coherence. That’s not necessarily a bad thing in the fantasy genre, where going trippy and intense can pay off. But by the end, Mandico’s luck may run out as the self-awareness gets dialed up to nauseating levels in scenes like the corpse banquet.
It’s also hit-and-miss whether Mandico succeeds at upending Conan lore into newly progressive fantasy by casting almost solely women. The director clearly gets a thrill from staging bloodletting and seductions with his female leads. But does he give them true empowerment or just fetishize the results?
One thing’s for sure – practical effects rule! Squibs, prosthetics and direct flesh-on-flesh carnage heighten the visceral nature of Conann’s many battles. CGI can’t compete with the textures and chaos of the lo-fi mayhem Mandico manufactures.
So while the sensory assault isn’t for everyone, gamers with an open mind for the experimental side of fantasy should eat up both the meat and meta of Mandico’s latest wild ride – even if it careens off the rails by the climax.
One Hell of a Blood-Soaked Acid Trip
If we’re keeping score on She Is Conann, Mandico’s gonzo epic earns high marks for ambition and going all out on practical effects. The flawless wardrobe and nightmarish visuals also make each frame worthy of hanging in a gallery.
On the downside, the episodic structure and lack of narrative cohesion keeps it from being a fully satisfying experience. And the director’s luck pushing the boundaries of excess may just run out by the climax’s gross-out cannibal feast.
Still, no one can accuse Mandico of playing it safe or toning down his provocative vision. Alongside psychotronic freak-outs like After Blue, Conann firmly cements his reputation as the arthouse rebel without a cause.
So is She Is Conann a future cult classic or pretentious trainwreck? Depends who you ask. More traditional fantasy fans will likely bounce right off its avant-garde edges. But gamers with a high tolerance for gore, mind-benders and general WTF moments will eat up the chance to lose themselves in Mandico’s house of beautiful horrors.
My take? While the episodic structure prevents it from greatness, the sum of She Is Conann’s bizarre parts equal one hell of a blood-soaked acid trip. Catch it with an open mind, and be prepared to leave your sanity at the door!
She Is Conann
Mandico’s ambitious fantasy epic is certainly not for everyone. The episodic structure lacks narrative focus, while the gross-out climactic scenes go too far in reveling in excess. And style sometimes threatens to overwhelm coherent storytelling. That being said, She Is Conann does boast dazzling visuals, practical effects, and standalone set pieces that acheive stunning visceral impact. Open-minded gamers up for a bizarre yet unforgettable surreal bloodbath won’t regret accepting Mandico’s invitation to madness.
- Visually stunning cinematography and production design
- Creative practical gore effects
- Standout set pieces and performances
- Ambitious genre and gender bending
- Episodic structure lacks cohesion
- Prioritizes style over narrative
- Gets overwhelmed by self-indulgent excess
- Doesn't fully develop empowering female characters