‘She Is Conann’ Review – A Ferocious Plunge Into Shiny, Flesh-Eating Fantasy

Christa Théret as Conann age 25 in Bertrand Mandico's She is Conann.

From experimental French filmmaker Bertrand Mandico, She is Conaan is a queer and gender-bent take on the Conan character. The primarily black-and-white fantasy epic sees an older version of Conann (Francoise Brion) waking up in Hell without memory. She’s guided through the six different versions of herself by a demon with the head of a dog named Rainer (Elina Lowensohn).

Face to face with the 55-year-old barbarian queen version of herself (Nathalie Richard), Conann is forced to regain her memory by reliving all of the murderous acts attached to her brutal soul over and over again for all eternity.

Elina Löwensohn as Rainer in Bertrand Mandico’s She is Conann.

She is Conann is unique in that it’s not women running around in the skin of an established male fantasy character just for the sake of a female perspective. Bertrand Mandico had an incredible vision for a film that mostly ignores gender with blood-splattering visuals, which you’ve never seen before.

With information taken from a 2023 Cannes interview by Philippe Azoury, She is Conann came about after Mandico became fascinated with demonic pacts. The film was shot in Luxembourg in an old steel factory. Robert E. Howard’s version of the character loosely influenced the film. Mandico states that this film isn’t a direct adaptation but is more inspired by the trauma of a killed mother and the idea of revenge by a barbarian slave.

Julia Riedler and Sandra Parfait as Sanja and Conann age 35 in Bertrand Mandico’s She is Conann.

The Conann spelling comes from Celtic mythology and is spelled the same way. Conann is a conqueror who lived among demons with dog or hyena heads in that mythology. Mandico states that Rainer is a dog because this particular animal is typically the one guiding you into the other world. The NN can also be associated with femininity and multiples, which ties directly to the Conann character killing their youth once they reach old age.

The film was shot on 35mm and had no special effects after development; everything was done on set. She is Conann was shot over five weeks with a decentering lens that breaks the balance between blur and sharpness.

This background information is all worth mentioning to get an idea of why Mandico chose the characters and because She is Conann has intriguing visuals. Shots are superimposed on one another, glitter is sometimes used as a highlight, and everything looks as practical as Bertrand Mandico claims. Most of Hell is depicted in color and takes place in a tinfoil chrome lodge. Moments of violence are also gushes of color, including a sequence where every other bullet shot by a machine gun and where that bullet lands is a flash of violent color.

Every ten years, Conann meets an older version of themself. They embrace each other in some form, usually a passionate kiss, and the older version of Conann kills the younger version. At around 35 years old, Conann falls in love with Sanja (Julia Riedler), the woman who made Conann kill their mother. While Conann gets more experienced and more ruthless as time goes on, they essentially become an angel of death with the sole purpose of sending bodies to Hell after Sanja dies.

Claire Duburcq as Conann age 15 in Bertrand Mandico’s She is Conann.

There’s more than a hint of cannibalism in She is Conann. They are forced to eat their mother’s heart after she is cut in half from head to crotch in front of them. Eating your enemy so you can become stronger or richer is a strong theme in She is Conann.

Rainer plays devil’s advocate throughout the film, primarily serving as a precognitive guide with questionable intentions. The film ends around the modern day and features recent technology, specifically cell phones. Rainer carries around a camera where he (the character is referred to as male in the film) is constantly taking pictures with a particular interest in dead bodies and slight necrophilia.

Nathalie Richard and Elina Löwensohn as Conann age 55 and Rainer in Bertrand Mandico’s She is Conann.

Whether She is Conann is faithful to the Conan character, the film is an intriguing and one-of-a-kind experience. The fantasy film has gorgeous, eye-popping cinematography, while the storyline allows love to take center stage. She is Conann is disgusting at times, jaw-dropping at others, and engrossing in between. It’s a gay film at its core, but it’s also overflowing with blood and dog-faced hellhounds.

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She is Conann



  • Splashes color on monochrome in creative ways.
  • Impressive practical effects.
  • Feels like a refreshing take on the fantasy epic genre.


  • May rub Conan purists the wrong way.
  • Drags a bit in its second half.
  • The ending is nauseating.
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