She is Conann: A blood-soaked genre-bender

She is Conann - Courtesy Exile PR
She is Conann - Courtesy Exile PR /

She is Conann is the latest romp from experimental director Bertrand Mandico. The film is in French and follows the life of Conann, a reimagined queer barbarian warrior, in different vignettes throughout her life. Played by a bevvy of different actresses at each stage, it is narrated by Rainer, a dog hybrid creature who follows her through her journey and documents everything with a camera. The premise is straight-forward, cataloging her life every ten years from the age of 15 to 55, hwoever the film is anything but. A wild romp filled with body horror, action, fantasy, and sexual passion, this film definitely leaves you with plenty to think about.

This is Mandico's third feature film and it's definitely a massive swing. This is certainly not going to be everyone's cup of tea as it breaks a lot of 'normalized' film rules of today. It's subtitled, mostly black and white, absolutely visceral and disgusting and it is intensely queer-coded. Yet, somehow for everything that is going on, it is very endearing and it does draw the audience in with a mix of fascination and shock. The black and white works really well framed with some of the disgusting shots that land a little lighter due to the lack of color. The direction here from Mandico is really something as well, it could be easy to get lost in all of the chaos but Mandico skillfully glides from one phase to the next, giving the audience just enough but not too much of each one.

She is Conann
She is Conann - Courtesy Exile PR /

The all female cast is quite the statement from this film as well, flipping the typical male barbarian stereotype on its head and centering the world into female rage. The only male character was technically Rainer, although he was still played by a female actress. The production quality is fascinating, its definitely rugged and not entirely realistic but it works in this strange and mystical world. The brutality and horror feel pretty stylized and neat rather than grotesque and horrific. The characters are also fun. Each phase of Conann brings something a little different, keeping her character fresh. Rainer is also hilarious, delivering tons of punchy one-liners throughout.

For me, everything was a little too stylized. It felt like it didn't necessarily want to funny commit to anything. The action, the brutality, the romance, the comedy, it all blended but more so in the way of a bunch of ingredients in the pot instead of one composed dish. The narrative drive was a little too fluttery for me, bouncing haphazardly from one story to the next. However, a lot of people will adore this and have a great time. I have to give huge props to Mandico and am intensely curious for what he decides to do next. She is Conann is currently unavailable on streaming but I expect it to make its way there very soon.