A 'romantic comedy' from Claire Denis
Claire Denis’ latest is a romantic comedy, but it is not perhaps the kind one might have envisaged as a vehicle for Sarah Jessica Parker or Jennifer Aniston. Juliette Binoche plays Isabelle, newly divorced, living in Paris. Denis’ follows her attempts to get back on the trail of true love through a series of liaisons – with an arrogant banker, a melancholy young actor, a working class barfly, even her ex-husband.
These affairs are accompanied by long, intellectual conversations as, each time, Isabelle wrestles with the question: is he the One? And in each instance, the answer is likely to prove to be negative. In one scene, Gerard Depardieu appears as a fortune teller. “You need people out of the ordinary,” he says, putting in a late bid for himself. It is very funny, very French.
The French thing shouldn’t be underplayed. It’s hard to imagine an American (or English film) that begins with a sex scene, shot in tight close-up, features a conversation about anal sex and elsewhere includes so much witty intellectualizing about love. Maybe Noah Baumbach could pull it off; but Let The Sunshine In is less showy and arch than that. Binoche is typically brilliant – Isabelle often sleeps with married men and admits that, with one of them, she can only orgasm by thinking about how much she detests him.
It’s sort of a throwaway Woody Allen gag, but in the hands of Denis and Binoche it is elevated into a sophisticated delight.
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