Bastards (Les Salauds) (tbc)

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The ViewChristchurch Review

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Review byJennifer tate15/02/2014

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 100 mins

Bursting with strong performances, Claire Denis’ Bastards makes for an intriguing watch, but the atmospheric film is far too self-conscious for its own good and ultimately fails to deliver.

What’s it all about?
Co-written and directed by Claire Denis, Bastards stars Vincent Lindon as Marco, a professional seamen who’s urgently called back to Paris, where he discovers that his sister Sandra’s (Julie Bataille) husband has committed suicide. On top of this, the family business has gone bankrupt and Sandra’s daughter, Justine (Lola Créton) is spiralling increasingly out of control and the person to blame is local dominant businessman, Edouard Laporte (Michel Subor). In an attempt to protect his family and keep tabs on Laporte, Marco moves into his building and before long, becomes involved with his beautiful but understandably nervy wife, Raphaelle (Chiara Mastroianni).

The Good
As soon as clips of a naked Lola Créton walking through dimly lit Parisian streets emerge, Claire Denis’ Bastards (which was shown in the Un Certain Regard category at Cannes 2013) makes for an intriguing, if not baffling watch. The subdued performances (particularly by Vincent Lindon and Julie Bataille) are undeniably impressive and the suitably dramatic score skilfully heightens the intensity in all the right places. Finally, the arresting cinematography by Agnes Godard is hauntingly beautiful.

The Bad
Despite its promising premise and the fact that acclaimed French filmmaker, Claire Denis writes and directs, Bastards ultimately fails to deliver. Firstly, its artful nature feels far too forced and contrived and as a result, it carries a frustrating sense of self-consciousness and struggles to engage effectively. There’s also a sense that a lot of the nudity is placed in the film to shock the viewer for the sake of it, and the incredibly graphic and stomach-churning final scene doesn’t quite sit right and leaves a nagging sense of frustration that the film has left behind many unanswered questions.

Worth seeing?
Even the beautiful cinematography and strong performances aren’t enough to make this perplexing and self-conscious film engaging and satisfying to watch. Fans of Claire Denis are likely to be disappointed.

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Content updated: 24/06/2018 13:27

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