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Supertanker captain Marco Silvestri is called back urgently to Paris. His sister Sandra is desperate - her husband has committed suicide, the family business has gone under, her daughter is spiralling downwards. Sandra holds powerful businessman Edouard Laporte responsible. Marco moves into the building where Laporte has installed his mistress and her son. But he hasn't planned for Sandra's secrets, which muddy the waters...Written by
I realised after watching Bastards that I am a Claire Denis fan. I appreciate her entire body of work and I knew early on she was one of my favourite directors. Each film she has made has moved me and stayed with me.
I like her way of filming a story. She never spells the story out for us, none of the characters come out and tell us how they are feeling; instead we have to find our own way into their worlds with visual clues. It is for us to see and follow, to be active in our observations. Somehow Claire Denis manages to reveal things to us in a soft, unassuming way, which then affects us when we read the intense and often deeply buried emotion that spills out.
For the making of Bastards, Claire Denis has returned to her team of long-time collaborators, including cinematographer Agnès Godard, indie band Tindersticks for their atmospheric soundtrack, and actors like Vincent Lindon, Gregoire Colin and Michel Subor.
With Bastards, Chiara Mastroianni (Beloved) joins this entourage, as does Lola Créton (Goodbye First Love, Something in the Air). While Mastroianni gives her best performance on screen, Créton reveals a lot of herself without ever actually saying more than a few words.
Viewers that have not seen any of her previous films may find it harder to appreciate the qualities and intensity of the movie. We are quickly drowning in a story where nearly every character is not likable - here the title Bastards feels very apt.
It's a dark and raw film. It has the shadowy mystery of The Intruder, the emotional disturbance of Trouble Every Day, and the intimacy of Vendredi Soir. It's a sordid and brutal revenge drama, but it's also a true modern film noir. Enigmatic and detailed, with dark textures. Sharing with us the fragile and troubled human condition, the characters' bodies are explored in close up, the texture of the skin, the marks and blemishes staring back at us.
But, ultimately, what Denis nails every time is the mood. The unseen, unheard mood. The impression we are left with, the vibrations of human energy. This is the real mark of a Claire Denis film.
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