Review: Bastards

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Bastards is a neo-noir from France written and directed by Claire Denis.  This is an idea ripped from the French headlines about wealthy, powerful men and a prostitution ring.  This is my first Denis film and it is supposed to be one of her darkest so far.  I hope so, because this is very dark!

Denis has teamed with Vincent Lindon before and wrote this movie with him in mind.  Lindon plays our protagonist who is a Sea Captain and comes back to Paris after hearing the news of his brother-in-law’s suicide.  Our femme fatale for this film is played by Chiara Mastroianni who is married to an older man and lives upstairs from Lindon’s recently rented apartment.

This has a slow pace and sparse dialog, but every little thing you are seeing seems to be important.  The story is told with a few flashbacks that show us what happened the night of the brother-in-law’s suicide.  The older man living up stairs is played by Michel Subor in a small but pivotal role.  He might be the performance of the film with his body language and how he evolves through out the film. Julie Bataille plays a widow, mom and sister to our protagonist.  She is in a desperate situation with an insurmountable amount of problems to overcome.  Lola Créton is our protagonist’s niece.  She is very troubled and as the film goes on we find little clues to why.

Our story starts with the suicide of the brother-in-law and his daughter walking down a side street naked and disoriented.  We see our hero getting the news on his ship and this is all before the opening credits role.  We flash forward a month where our hero returns to Paris to help his sister get her affairs in order and to help his niece who is still in a mental hospital.  As the film goes on we don’t really learn as our protagonist learns as we are used to.  We do learn as things go on, but the audience is left in the dark for a lot of this film.  It is worth watching to the end to see where all this goes, but be warned, it is disturbing and not for the weak of heart.  This movie will stay with you for a while after you see it.

Favorite Tidbit: This film is inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s movie The Bad Sleep Well.  I hope to watch and review this film soon.

This movie is for fans of Denis and other French films tackling tough subjects.  Neo-noir fans that can handle a little darker and more disturbing content then the norm will…I was going to say enjoy this film, but I don’t think this film is meant to be enjoyed.

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