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2.5 out of 5 stars11
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A man lies dead, a young woman walks the streets at night, dazed and naked. The opening scene of Claire Denis’ new film ‘Bastards’ shows fragments of something terrible thats taken place, but we don’t know what. The young womans name is Justine (Lola Créton), her mother Sandra (Julie Bataille) learns of her tragedy and the dead man who is her husband and Justine’s father.

Sandra seems to have given up hope, or simply doesn’t care. Its not until Sandra’s brother Marco (Vincent Lindon) is called to return from his job as a captain of a ship, that things start to unravel. Marco seems to be the only one compelled to find out what happened to Justine and her father, who was Marco’s best friend. Sandra is of little help, Marco doesn’t quite trust her, and maybe never had. She tells him who she thinks is responsible, Marco drops everything to piece back together a disturbing picture of family life.

‘Bastards’ is a moody, slow-burning noir with a surprising series of events that will leave a mark on you. Marco’s affair with Raphaelle (Chiara Mastroianni) provides the film with its emotional heart. But everyone is numb and lonely, seemingly unable to express themselves, or simply afraid to. ‘Bastards’ uses a strange emotional state, darkness pervades in everyone who are all closely shot but you still can’t get close to them. Somethings holding them all back, and the protagonists of the crimes do not need to lift a finger.

‘Bastards’ isn’t a bleak film, theres still enough tenderness and thoughtfulness in the characters to imbue the film with a humane presence. It still keeps you at a distance, the ending is a shocking conclusion to a fine film, perfectly pivoted by a wonderful song from the Tindersticks. You may not like the ending, but i think this was the point from Denis, in what is her finest film yet.

Rating: 9/10
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on 10 February 2015
French author, screenwriter, film professor and director Claire Denis` twelfth feature film which she co-wrote with French screenwriter Jean-Pol Fargeau, premiered in the Un Certain Regard section at the 66th Cannes International Film Festival in 2013, was screened in the Masters section at the 38th Toronto International Film Festival in 2013, was shot on locations in France and is a France-Germany co-production which was produced by producers Vincent Maraval, Olivier Théry-Lapiney and Laurence Clerc. It tells the story about a former naval officer named Marco Silvestri whom after learning that something has happened to his friend named Jacques, leaves his job to support his sister named Sandra, then learns that her daughter named Justine has been hospitalized and begins studying a woman named Raphäelle who lives with her son named Joseph and her husband named Edouardo.

Distinctly and masterfully directed by French filmmaker Claire Denis, this finely paced fictional tale which is narrated from multiple viewpoints, draws a multifaceted portrayal of a French father, brother and captain on a ship whom whilst looking for his niece acquaints a married mother whose main concern in life besides the well-being of her son, is that no one else has a more fulfilling life than hers. While notable for its distinct and atmospheric milieu depictions, reverent and crucial cinematography by cinematographer Agnès Godard, production design by production designer Michel Barthélémy and use of sound, colors and light, this character-driven and narrative-driven story about atrocious and dehumanizing crimes against youths and children which illustrates how positively audacious cinema can be when executed by a filmmaker with an immaculate cinematic language and where a middle-aged man initiates an unscrupulous romance with a stranger whilst a daughter is dancing with death, depicts several dense and mysterious studies of character and contains a great and timely score by English composer Stuart A. Staples.

This increasingly dramatic, perspicacious and romantic master-act in audio-visual proficiency which is set in the capital city of France in the 21st century and where a man`s hazardous search for a disappeared close relative leads him on an unrighteous path where barbarianism governs, is impelled and reinforced by its densely fragmented narrative structure, subtle character development, rhythmic continuity, efficient film editing, distinct humane undertones and style of filmmaking, eloquent use of music, appropriate title which is a social comment in itself, breath-taking last scene, telling comment by Raphäelle : “What`s so great about your life?”, the poignant acting performances by French actor Vincent Lindon and French-Italian actress and singer Chiara Mastroianni and the good acting performances by French actress Julie Bataille and French actor Michel Subor. An austerely emphatic, astonishingly envisaged and obscurely atmospheric narrative feature.
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Released in France as `Les Salauds' this is the latest from the highly distinctive French film maker Claire Denis. It is about Marco who is a super tanker captain; he returns to Paris after his sister, Sandra, calls him back. Her husband has committed suicide and she holds corrupt businessman, Laporte, responsible. So Marco moves into the same apartment block where Monsieur Laporte has installed his mistress and son.

We are never quite sure what form of retribution he is aiming for we just know it won't be nice. But as ever with a Claire Denis film, we have more intrigues and sexual shenanigans and the more Marco finds out about his sister the more things become complicated. This is a film that demands attention or you will miss parts of the story or not realise the significance of certain scenes- to say any more would be entering the realms of plot spoiler.

Denis always makes interesting films that do not always fit the pigeonholes we like to use for cinema and this is no exception and well done to het for that. The music is by Stuart A. Staples (Tindersticks) who has worked with her before on `Nenette et Boni' and `Trouble Every Day', Denis is probably best known for the poetic `Beau Travail', but this is far removed from that work and whilst being quite dark it is still a riveting watch. In French with very good sub titles - a film for Gallic fans and those who like things a bit different.
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on 22 October 2015
Watched this on the strength that it had made the top 10 French films for 2013 and I like film noir. All I can say is that it took me probably about 45mins to fathom out roughly what was going on and even then it was so disjointed that it just didn't seem to tie together. Acting was OKish ... included the almost obligatory sex scenes/nudity ... just bored the pants off me :)
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on 10 August 2015
Grey t shirt and 80s leather blouson wearing Vincent Lindon pulls faces , grunts and believes that because this is an art film he doesn't have to act . There is some very unrealistic attempts at ugly sex and a dull complicated plot. I watched thinking , this must get better , it didn't . This is neither thriller or noir.
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on 19 May 2014
This movie is beautiful and horrific at the same time. It's horrific, because it's so realistic, what happens in this movie really could be happening - this makes for truly good horror. At the same time it's beautifully shot with truly beautiful actors - especially Lola Creron absolutely shines and is as fearless as always. Stunning movie!
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on 8 June 2014
What a waste of 100 minutes, luckily the dvd was just rented not purchased. This film manages to be offensive and yet boring at the same time - what little tension created comes to nothing and the "fragmentation" is just annoying not thought provoking and seems more a case of poor editing. If a male director had portrayed women in this way he would have been accused of misogyny and the grimy scenes just leave a queasy unpleasant feeling. Any pretensions at being a zeitgeist statement are simply lost - this isn't modern noir, it is just a contemporary mess.
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on 12 April 2015
There are some films that benefit from being "mixed up" ie Memento style. But this film would have been so much better if it was just a normal linear film. Its mixed up that much that I had no idea what was happening - completely pointless.
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on 20 May 2014
This film promised so much from reading the plot synopsis on IMDB, but failed to deliver.

Slow slow and even slower seemed to be the speed at which the film chugged along.

Bastards indeed, bucket loads of them, and none more so than Raphaëlle

Nevertheless this was a film worth watching, and I do have to say the ending was unexpected, but no spoilers from me
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on 20 May 2014
Poor film, nothing really happened. You were left thinking, something is going to happen soon, but it didn't, big let down
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