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Bastards

November 16, 2014

Bastards (2013)
Director: Claire Denis
Actors: Vincent Lindon, Chiara Mastroianni, Julie Bataille

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Synopsis: Marco (Vincent Lindon), an itinerant naval worker, is called back to the family flock in Paris when his brother-in-law, Jacques, commits suicide and leaves the family finances in a perilous state. Marco proceeds to ingratiate himself with Raphaëlle (Chiara Mastroianni) – the mistress of millionaire Edouard (Michel Subor) who was closely linked to Jacques’ business affairs. Marco’s niece Justine (Lola Créton) is practically catatonic and suffering from graphic injuries and a strange malaise incurred at a similar time to her father’s death. Justine’s story and the intertwining of Marco’s family’s affairs with Edouard combine to unmask a sinister secret….

Review: It’s a real treat to see Claire Denis dabbling in slightly more conventional, genre material. Her murky, lugubrious, elliptical style that straddles shades both naturalistic and impressionistic makes such a rich and natural bedfellow for gripping, characterful narrative cinema.

It’s the non-didactic storytelling that really stands out in Bastards and how Denis is content to let the narrative and its themes and undertones trickle out forbodingly – as much through mood, clever editing and the simple presentation of time, rather than guiding the audience’s hand through every twist and turn. Thus, when we reach the shocking – but somehow, inevitable – climax, we realise that what Denis has crafted is a pitch-perfect parable of corruption and betrayal, and that the film’s title Bastards is a suitable epitaph for the way that fiscal and sexual depravity has insidiously destroyed every single character in the story. (November 2014)

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