Archive for July 29th, 2020

 © 2020 by James Clark

      Our film today brims with startling distemper. It also provides one of the most handsome instances of generosity to be found, in and out, of the once-called “silver screen.” A woman in Paris, Raphael, accompanies, one morning, her elementary school boy son to a carriage trade, very private institute. Then she walks by an antique clock and watch shop which attracts her. She asks to see a waterproof wrist watch which had now become important to her, on account of her becoming an underwater athlete and investigator during her summer with her family at their villa on the Cote d’Azure. She chooses an alpha-trade item, sturdy and designed with great taste. There is an inscription of dedication, which runs, “To my son who sails the seas.”

The love in that missive means nothing to her. But with that good will, the writer, a skilled entrepreneur in the field of premier women’s shoes, has found himself, in his last days, without a valid successor. The shambles that follow are showy, but not terribly unique. What does take our breath away is the father’s benevolence. Claire Denis does not want of a compass, for her intense offerings. She finds all the work in the world in the filmic cataclysms of Ingmar Bergman. With the film, Bastards (2013), that stream of clannish patricians which became disturbing in the film, Scenes from a Marriage (1973), and followed even more violently (in subsequent films) when unity failed, transfigured to venomous proportions pertaining to clinging for generations to murderous advantage. Whereas the disinterested father, Mr. Silvestri, who had  left Italy for the opportunities of Paris, had become a cosmopolitan, his daughter, Sandra, had remained a lead-pipe savage, not to be dealing in nuance when the going got rough. (Denis’ early experiences in Africa now putting on the table another range of clannish perversity to complicate an already challenged discernment.) (more…)

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