Mathilde Monnier is France’s foremost contemporary choreographer. An explorer of post-modern theory, she has acquired a formidable reputation. World famous French director Claire Denis (Beau travail, Friday Night) looks for parallels between her own work and that of Monnier, as she documents the birth, formulation, and performance of a radical new dance piece by Monnier. Using both Super-8 and Super-16 cameras, Denis covers a large field of creative ingenuity, from Monnier warming up, directing, and practicing performances herself, to a few behind-the-scenes looks at creating stage design, as well as several rather remarkable practice performances by Monnier’s dancers. Three different productions are caught in various stages in the documentary, and Denis’ impressionistic, elliptical style captures both the beauty of movement and the spontaneous conceptual grace of Monnier’s choreography.
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
Underwhelming and somewhat pedestrian documentary effort from Claire Denis who should be noted is one of my favourite narrative directors. Denis attempts to infilitrate the creative process of Mathilde Monnier but unfortunately barely scratches the surface. Only the final sequence shot by the infallible Agnes Godard seems to be up to the high caliber set by Denis' other works. A rare miss.
The absolute best part, obviously, is the performance at the end. I could barely stay awake while the dancer struggled to compose/design her work. What the hell? I really didn't get any insight- perhaps another dancer/performer would have. It was a great gamble on Denis' part but I would rather watch 90 minutes of the actual performance.
"Most of us at Reverse Shot are enamored of Claire Denis, so it was only a matter of time before we devoted a symposium to her, for
An interview with the French director of 35 rhums.
Claire Denis' cinema of elision typically works around an event, or an issue, to best conjure a concept or a tone or a metaphor or a theme