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Louis Trebor, a man nearing 70, lives alone with dogs in the forest near the French-Swiss border. He has heart problems, seeks a transplant, and then goes in search of a son sired years before in Tahiti. Told elliptically, with few words, we see Louis as possibly heartless, ignoring a son who lives nearby who is himself an attentive father to two young children, one named for Louis. He leaves his bed one night - and his lover - to kill an intruder; he dreams, usually of violence. Will his body accept his heart? Will his son accept his offer? Written by
The film is not visually stunning in the conventional sense. It doesn't present a series of pretty pictures. Instead it is a visually interesting film. It forces the viewer to constantly process or perhaps imagine the context of the various shots. This sort of thing is easy to try but hard to succeed at. The film refuses to use the crutch of a genre to help the less than fully engaged viewer get what's going on. Instead the film touches on and moves through a number of different genres. The trick to loving the film is being able to enjoy this playfulness. I suspect 99% of North American viewers will just not get it. If you try to pin down the narrative of this film, or the philosophical message, or the symbolist structure, etc. you will waste your time. There are none of these. The film only feints towards these genres and others at times. The only unifying force in the film is Claire Denis's own sense of what fits together. There are so few feature length films that come close to satisfying Kant's description of what art is, namely the enjoyment of the power of judgment itself instead of simply subsuming experiences under concepts. Film usually takes the easy way out and opts for the simpler pleasure of understanding what's happening. Most film is not art. Most film doesn't come close to art. When a film does, as this one does, and is still enjoyable by a large range of viewers, it's something of a miracle. My on negative comment is that at times I find the film too simplistically buying in to the various narrative threads that run through it. The Tahiti father-son narrative, even though it's not exactly conventional, ends up making things a little to clear and simple. It dominates too much.
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