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3,384 Ratings

Mauvais Sang

Directed by Léos Carax
France, 1986
Crime, Romance
  • French
  • English


Alex, an ex-con and the teenage son of a murdered criminal, is coerced by two former associates of his father into stealing the antidote to a deadly AIDS-like virus. As he falls for the crime boss’ mistress, a rival gang lurks in the shadows, also intent upon securing the precious serum.

Our take

A hot blooded ‘80s potion of gangster cinema, AIDS fears, and giddy romance, Leos Carax’s second film features a young Juliette Binoche in one of her first major roles—next to Denis Lavant, Michel Piccoli and Julie Delpy!—while its soundtrack includes Bowie’s “Modern Love” in a now-iconic scene.

Mauvais Sang Directed by Léos Carax
During this nocturne, there are shots of Binoche clothed in a bright blue robe, which last as long as Lavant’s more famous run/dance, her eyes continually wide, her face flickering. This nighttime exchange between Alex and Anna, which flirts with comedy, tragedy, romance, disgust, pain, and love, is as perhaps as close to a mission statement for his films that Carax has yet offered and as romantic as movies get.
August 21, 2019
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A masterpiece of ecstatic cinema from 1986, directed by Leos Carax at the age of twenty-five… With an emotional world akin to that of the New Wave masters, a visual vocabulary that pays tribute to their later works, and a visionary sensibility that owes much to Jean Cocteau’s fantasies, Carax suggests the burden of young genius in a world of mighty patriarchs who aren’t budging.
June 15, 2017
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Not only is Carax’s poetic impulse uninhibited, the poetry itself is totally unfettered from a dominant system. Mauvais sang’s sense of symbolism is Cubist. Dozens of discrete signs and motifs stack, overlap, recombine, adhere, toppling over each other. It’s exhilarating—and not only for the audience: watch Alex/Lavant/Carax careening down the street, frenzied with desire for his partner-in-crime’s young lover, Anna (Binoche, flirty and unselfconscious like the Anna Karina her bob cut cites).
April 02, 2016
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