From its opening images of a young woman in high heels and nothing else walking through the rainy streets of Paris at night, the latest from master filmmaker Claire Denis is equal parts stark and voluptuous, brutal and sensual, raw and sophisticated.
On the face of it Bastards is a lean revenge thriller. Vincent Lindon plays a mariner called home after his traumatized niece is taken into care and his brother-in-law commits suicide, both alleged victims of the same rich and powerful industrialist (Michel Subor). Marco moves into the vacant apartment immediately above the industrialist’s wife (Chiara Mastroianni), also the mother of his only child, and sets about insinuating himself into their lives. But to what end?
From these bare bones - inspired in part by Kurosawa’s The Bad Sleep Well and Faulkner’s Sanctuary - Denis fashions a hypnotic and disturbing inquiry into sex, money and power, family bonds, and the lure of the dark side. Denis’ toughest movie since Trouble Every Day, Bastards presents a bleak vision of patriarchy, but it certainly doesn’t let women off the hook for their complicity in this state of affairs.
Claire Denis was born in Paris, raised primarily in West Africa, and graduated from France’s Institut des Hautes Études Cinématographiques (IDHEC). Many of her films have screened at the Festival, including her debut feature, Chocolat (88), the documentary Man No Run (89), No Fear, No Die (90), I Can’t Sleep (94), Nenette and Boni (96), Beau travail (99), Trouble Every Day (01), Friday Night (02), The Intruder (04), 35 Shots of Rum (08), and White Material (09). Les Salauds (13) is her latest film.
"It is the darkest movie - visually, psychologically and spiritually - that Denis has made. It’s also one of the rarest of cinematic objects - a completely contemporary, disturbingly relevant film noir." Amy Taubin, Sigh & Sound
"As black and sticky and inescapable as a tar pit - a movie whose darkness swallows its characters and the audience whole." **** Adam Nayman, Globe & Mail