Both Sides of the Blade, a film by Claire Denis

By Peter Bradshaw for The Guardian

Claire Denis’s new film is a seductively indirect love triangle, a drama of the mind as much as the heart. It’s intriguing if contrived and anticlimactic, though acted at the highest pitch of sensual conviction. Denis has co-written the screenplay with the author Christine Angot, with whom she wrote her previous movie Let the Sunshine In, and this has the same novelistic feel. The original French title is Feu, ou Avec Amour et Acharnement (which translates as Fire, or With Love And Fury); the English subtitle comes from a Tindersticks’ track composed especially for this film about the lacerating agony of an impossible choice: (“I’m sliding down both sides of the blade”).

The three combatants are heavyweights of French cinema. Juliette Binocheis Sara, a presenter on a highbrow Paris radio talk show, who for 10 years has lived with Jean (played by the smoulderingly rumpled Vincent Lindon); he is a former sports star, retired through injury, who has served time in prison for an unspecified offence and now is apparently denied a credit card and so deals in cash. Jean has a teen son, Marcus (Issa Perica) whose mother now lives abroad and who is being raised by Jean’s mother Nelly (Bulle Ogier). The third corner of the triangle is François (Grégoire Colin), Sara’s ex-lover whom she left for Jean on a passionate impulse a decade ago. Jean and Sara haven’t seen François since then, but one morning outside the studio, Sara glimpses François in the street and all her old feelings are devastatingly reignited. Did he see her, too? It’s not clear, but maybe it’s not a coincidence that he contacts Jean trying to get his help with a sports agency he is setting up.

Coming to Cinemas in Sydney on the 1st September

read the full review HERE

Watch the Trailer below


Profile in The New Yorker by Alice Gregory

One night many years ago, a French family was driving through the North Region of Cameroon when they ran out of gas. As they scrambled to refill the tank, the car was surrounded by a pride of lions. To protect their young daughter, the parents locked her in a metal trunk. The animals circled the vehicle continuously, and to distract herself from danger the girl repeated her own name. Over the years, the story of the little blond French girl besieged by lions became something of a legend in the area. It was said by some that she had survived for fifteen days under the hot African sun.

Decades after the story first circulated, the little girl returned to Cameroon from Paris, where she had come of age. She was still small, and her hair remained blond, but she was now in her sixties. She had become a director and was there to work on a feature film. Sometimes, when scouting locations in the bush with her camera-laden crew, she would come upon locals and introduce herself. “Oh, but it’s you,” they would say. “The girl with the lions.”

Only as an adult did Claire Denis realize that she hadn’t been afraid of the lions all those years ago. She suspects that she was too young to be frightened, she has said, and remembers instead a feeling of calm remove from the world, as though she were “in a different time frame.” She recalls how the animals, aglow in the headlights, appeared pale, almost white. “I thought it was the most beautiful sight,” she told me. She rolled her hips from side to side. “They were so cool and so slow.”

The incident could be a scene from one of Denis’s films. The dialogue is sparse, and the cast of characters is limited. The themes are there, too: the refusal of victimhood, the embrace of solitude amid chaos, and race as an unremarked on but glaring element of a situation that is easy to imagine but impossible to fully explain

Read more HERE

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Comments 2

  1. Thank you Lorrie. I am a great admirer/fan of the work of Claire Denis and have followed her avidly since her first film. Before she made her own films she was notably first ad for Wim Wenders films. The last one she did with him was as first on
    Paris Texas! xx Julia

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