My friend invited me to see Bastards at the Renoir with her and I willingly obliged as I was keen to discover Claire Denis as a filmmaker.
Set in modern day Paris, Bastards takes us on an investigative journey as Marco (Vincent Lindon), quits his job as a sea captain and attempts to put together the pieces of his broken family, following the suicide of Jacques, his one time good friend and husband to his sister.
Denis draws us into a sinister world of deceit, violence and family dysfunction where the politics of power, wealth and happiness converge.
Believing wealthy businessman, Laporte, played brilliantly by Michel Subor, to be connected with the demise of his family and untimely death of his brother-in- law, Marco moves into the same apartment block in attempt to uncover more about the man.
What ensues is a fatal connection and discoveries that would have been best left undiscovered.
There is little dialogue; Denis and longtime DOP collaborator, Godard, craft a film where we hear the thoughts and feel the tensions and desires of the characters through clever placement of the lens.
Bastards arrested my attention from the beautiful opening shot of the heavy downpour of rain till the closing credits. From this perspective, it is masterful and I shall sing Denis’s praise.
However, the subjects Denis explores in Bastards are so uncomfortably dark and displayed in such a graphic manner, it does make me wonder whether the film is a bit gratuitous for what it’s trying to convey. Or, perhaps, I just didn’t get the essence of the film. See it and decide for yourself.
Image from Wild Bunch