The two leads in The Piano Teacher were photographed in close ups that put them in the middle of the frame, often with negative space around them. Their desire, lust, shame and humiliation was put on full and naked display for the audience. They couldn’t hide from us, and we couldn’t hide from them.
More than anything, I love how Zulawski captures the rampant emotion incubating in his woman leads by dressing them in garments that are almost seductive in their mere simplicity: the hints of monstrosity are only present in the tiny details.
I noted before that Adjani’s blue, conservative dress in Possession is almost iconic in itself: the piece of clothing literally transforms with her throughout the film as she digs deeper and deeper within her own skin and self-constructed madness. One of my favourite shots is the one above, where the buttons going down her spine make it seem like her bones are literally stabbing a pattern into her dress.
And who could forget Romy’s dress in L’important c’est d’aimer when her character, Nadine (a B-List actress), meets up with the photographer (Testi) who fancies her? The ridges cupping her chest and midriff area create a perplexing illusion for the viewer, and personally - all I see is the underbelly of a snake, ready for dissection.