35 Shots of Rum (35 Rhums)
Claire Denis’ latest venture is a far more intimate affair than 2004’s sprawling and elliptical The Intruder and a fine addition to the director’s challenging and protean body of work. Centring on the delicate but loving bond between a father and his daughter, 35 Shots of Rum is also her most accessible, tender and warm-hearted film yet.
Fans of her work will be gratified once more by the lush cinematography of Denis regular Agnès Godard and the atmospheric musical score by Stuart Staples of Tindersticks fame; what they might be more surprised by, however, is Denis’ use of a simpler and more linear narrative form.
While Denis’ newest film is certainly less opaque than previous efforts, it is no less complex in its investigation of the negotiation between ‘self’ and ‘other’ and the difficulties of forming and sustaining any human relationship.
The cast (including other Denis regulars Alex Descas and Grégoire Colin) are uniformly excellent, but newcomer Mati Diop gives an especially impressive and understated performance as Joséphine, a girl who seems reluctant to cross over the threshold into adulthood, but who has also accepted its responsibilities earlier on in life than she perhaps should have. Highly recommended.
Cameo, Edinburgh and selected release from Fri 10 Jul. See profile of Stuart Staples.