In her emotionally explosive fifth film, Claire Denis again worked with the two young actors, Alice Houri and Grégoire Colin, from her previous film U.S. Go Home. Bonifica (19) known as Boni, works in a pizza joint in Marseille. After the death of his mother, he didn’t want to have anything more to do with his father, a lampshade dealer who brought up Boni’s sister Nénette, who is now 15. One day Nénette climbs over the wall of her boarding school and then knocks on Boni’s door. Boni is angry at first and refuses to take her into his house. Both have been hardened by life and both are wrestling with a father they hate and who no longer has a place in their lives after their mother’s death. They only have each other to turn to and try to make the best of things, slowly growing closer together. Boni fantasizes about the attractive wife of the local baker (played by Valérie Bruni-Tedeschi) and Nénette confesses to Boni the real reason she left.Denis uses a wide variety of styles – from tight close-ups, documentary-like shots to idealized dream sequences – to map out the intangible aspects of the sibling bond, assisted by the sultry sounds of the British band Tindersticks. The film won the Golden Leopard at the Locarno Film Festival. –IFFR
A provocative director whose films offer richly textured, contemplative examinations of cross-cultural tensions and alienation, Claire Denis is one of French cinema’s most distinctive and humanistic storytellers. A prolific filmmaker who is more concerned with the drive of her characters rather than the plot that weaves them together, she has been dubbed by one critic as one of the only current French directors who “has been able to reconcile the lyricism of French cinema with the impulse to capture the often harsh face of contemporary France.”
Born in Paris on April 21, 1948, Denis, the daughter of a civil servant, was raised in a series of African countries until she was 14, when her family returned to France. She learned about filmmaking as an assistant to a number of notable directors, including Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire), Jim Jarmusch (Down by Law), and Costa-Gavras (Hanna K.). She made her directorial and screenwriting debut in 1988 with Chocolat, a lush exploration… read more
the famous plaisanteur nietzsche once said that to cure a woman, to redeem her, a man has to give her a child. this film seems to be made from the perspective of a female nietzsche , who boldly states: the same goes for a man, it is he who is saved and comforted by a child. and if i am to consider the unpleasant appendix that continues the assumption above, "woman needs children, a man is for her always only a means"
, then of course i wonder who is the "means" in this film. but it is nonsense to talk of means and goals in an unconsciously perfect balance like brother-sister relationship presented here. they help each other unwillingly in a way that conscious, calculated planning would never succeed. denis' realm are improbabilities: it is improbable that things would go well. yet, they do, even when going wrong is the next nearest step in their possible development.
Skimming through Judith Mayne's book on Claire Denis's films and reading her commentary on how "Nenette and Boni" blurs the lines between fantasy and reality, past and present, as well as physical/geographical limits, I found Mayne's statement that the nature of the subject's fantasies or ruminations evolves with the changes in the subject themselves to be quite thought-provoking and maybe even a good clue for pin-pointing the central focus of the film.
there are very few things in this world prettier than swimming curly hair underwater.
A sensitive and intuitive masterstroke, finding a middle ground between U.S. Go Home and 35 Shots of Rum in terms of style and content. A story not only of siblings, but of (stalled) maturation. The gorgeous, wispy fragments of fantasy/rumination drive home what are abstractions (The Baker & His Wife) into emotional reality. One of the great 1990s films.
The Constellation record label provides an intoxicating hint at its upcoming 5 disc boxset of music by Tindersticks (and, presumably, the solo