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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
Claire Denis has demonstrated repeatedly that film does not need to tell a story, that it is sufficient to create an experience that allows the viewer to take the ingredients and make of them what they will.
Ostensibly the idea within the framework of a most non-linear film is the older man living on the French-Swiss border, a man devoted to his dogs, who still has a lover, but whose cardiac status increasingly threatens his life. He has a son with a little family who infrequently meet with him, but when he discovers he is in need of a heart transplant he opts for going to Tahiti via Japan to obtain a heart transplant on the black market and to rekindle a long lost relationship with a son he had form a Tahitian women years ago.
What Denis does with this outline of a story is use her camera to explore the loneliness of the soul, the vastness of nature, man's interaction with people vs animals, etc. Much of the time the 'film' doesn't make sense, but that is because we try too hard to connect all the dots laid out before us in beautiful pictures. Life is sort of like that: we look, see, observe, integrate, process, and make of it what we will.
In using this form of film making (much as she did in the strangely beautiful 'Beau Travail') Claire Denis has developed a signature technique. Whether or not the viewer finds the finished product rewarding has much to do with our individual methods of processing visual and conceptual information. This is an interesting and visually captivating film, but many viewers will find it an overly long discourse about very little. Perhaps watching again will change that. Grady Harp
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