Les Salauds (Bastards) (2013) by Claire Denis
Unfuckingbelievable. No matter how serious and dedicated I’ve tried to be about watching films over the past 25 years, my opinions can feel so utterly random and oh-so dependent on my mood. I remember seeing Trouble Every Day, hating it instantly & with passion, feeling pretty good about hating it, and never looking back… As I was watching Bastards tonight, it felt that I should have hated it for the exact same reasons as Trouble — something about the fabric of both films that felt similar to me (although two completely different genres: vampire gore vs film noir)… But god knows why, something clicked pretty early on during Bastards, and I embraced it.
Maybe I was in the right mood for it. Maybe Chiara Mastroianni's face did it for me. Maybe Tindersticks' awesome claustrophobic score had also something to do with it (although loving Tinderstick's soundtrack on Trouble Every Day didn’t prevent me from despising that film). Or could it be the eerie&classy Haussmannian Parisian building where most of the sexy scenes take place — the creaking floorboards, the high ceilings, the cold austere dark stairwell.
And maybe listening to Claire Denis talk after the screening helped.
She was being interviewed in English, and although her English is really good, she had to search for the right words, and I think that forced her to be extra thoughtful. I think she would have been a little more careless with her words in French (a consequence of fluency, I guess)… or maybe not, scrap that. Anyway, I liked that she thought long and hard before answering. She talked about her hate of the word “auteur”. Se talked about her attraction for the masculinity of male characters in cinema, how those characters are often grounded in reality, and the innocence that can be found in masculinity. With Bastards, she wanted Vincent Lindon to be strong, heroic, manly, but despite all that, she wanted him to be helpless and ultimately “fucked by the story”. I liked that. She talked about the challenges of shooting digital. She talked about her love of scouting for locations, how each location would dictate her use of close ups vs wide shots, and how shooting on location creates a certain rough quality on screen that she seeks. She talked well and carefully about other things too. And she wore a cool black leather jacket, which, again, could be why I liked her film… That’s how flaky I can be.
[See on Tue 4 February 2014 @ Curzon Soho, London]