S’en fout la mort, Claire Denis’ third film, is simultaneously an eye-opening account of an illegal gambling activity (cock-fighting has been outlawed in Europe for some time) and also a sobering reflection on modern civilisation. The cock fighting scenes are truly awful to watch, but it is the de-sensitised complacency of those that participate in this activity which is far more shocking.
Most of Denis’ films have an important social message, making her unique, often demanding, brand of cinema relevant to a modern audience. The moral which emerges from this film is the extent to which our social, economic and technological advancement has not been accompanied by an increase in our collective humanity and compassion.
The lot of the two black brothers in the film is scarcely better than that of the birds they are training, and the bond between them and their birds is more tangible than any attachment to anyone else. Jocelyn and Doh are outsiders who have no place in the society they serve, and Claire uses them skilfully to show us the moral depravity and spiritual emptiness of the world we laughingly call civilisation.
S’en fout la mort is not an easy film to watch, and resembles more a fly-on-the-wall documentary than a conventional drama, lacking the artistic flair of Denis’ subsequent better works. However, it is an intelligent and thought-provoking film which makes some valid albeit discomforting statements about our society’s attitude towards life. —James Travers
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
alex descas is such an underrated actor. it seems like claire denis & olivier assayas are the only ones who recognize his true talent.