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Customer Review

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Subtle view of quiet lives in blue-collar Paris, 25 July 2009
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This review is from: 35 Shots Of Rum [DVD] [2008] (DVD)
This film by Claire Denis who wrote the script and directed is a persuasive small-scale family drama set in the working-class suburbs of Paris, where a widower and father, originally from the overseas departement of Guadeloupe, lives with his daughter in a block of flats. Their neighbours include an elusive young man who may be her suitor and a female taxi driver who seems to be the father's on-off lover.

Mlle Denis outlines her characters subtly and slowly, keeping their relationships hazy. She expects her audience to work to follow the sometimes elliptical events (which, unlike the other reviewer here, I did not find too slow) and to assess the characters from the information that's dripped out. One of the noticeable things is that these people appear to have their being exclusively among black people. The only white faces belong to the aunt and her niece who are visited in Lubeck, Germany, towards the end.

The style here is typically contemporary with regard to the preponderance of close-ups as the domestic life of father and daughter is traced in careful detail. The intensity of the camera's gaze manages to endow the mostly humdrum events with significance beyond the banal. Mlle Denis likes to dwell on visual elements of daily life that establish a pattern: the first 10 mins are seen from the point of view of a suburban train driver (several of our male characters are train drivers) as the tracks at points and sidings converge, diverge, then converge again; we also see the lit carriages of trains passing by, each one containing little human dramas closed to the onlooker.

There is excellent ensemble acting here backed up by a varied and always attractive musical soundtrack (especially that which illuminates the stand-out sequence of the film, when a carload of concert-goers breaks down and they seek shelter in a bar that opens specially for them. Here is a quiet scene that's infused with energy.

If you think you'd like a film that unhurriedly says something about the interaction of individualism and community, then this is for you.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 29 Jul 2009 10:55:31 BDT
I see our mutual admirer is back and having another bad day at the office! ;))

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Jul 2009 15:17:38 BDT
H. Dumpty says:
Crikey, the DVDs not even out yet and the unhelpful comment count, were it laid head to tail, would already extend from The Thames Barrier to The Lizard ;0)

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Jul 2009 18:11:03 BDT
And all from the same person... ;))

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Jul 2009 10:36:49 BDT
H. Dumpty says:
Just seen George Pal's War of the Worlds. Lo and behold, at the end of the booklet, what do I stumble upon but the TW name as co-author? And a vg job you made of it. Excellent on the social comment intention in HGW's science fiction. In a short 10 pages you said far more about the film than did the 2 commentaries put together; mind you, one of them was by Gene Barry and Ann Robinson, and after their performances in the film (esp. hers) how come they didn't long since beg the Martians to come and take them away?

ps your new-found ability to review films by telepathy is gathering strength. Latest attempt seems to have been Moulin Rouge!
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