Watching this new film from celebrated French director Claire Denis, I pondered the question: how much can an incredible lead performance make up for a movie’s shortcomings? In this case, my conclusion is quite a bit.
That performance comes from the great Juliette Binoche, playing Isabelle, an artist in Paris who is desperate to find love, but only ever seems to make connections with unsuitable men. It is pitch-perfect, but at the same time I imagine many people will find it hard to watch because Isabelle is just so irritating! With too much time on her hands, she seems intent on destroying any possible chance of happiness, not only with the choice of men she has relationships with, but with the hostility she treats them to.
The supporting performances are all fine, and in some long talky scenes, Denis’ screenplay is always interesting. The final scene involving Gerard Depardieu’s fortune teller analysing Isabelle’s situation, though again well-written, feels unnecessary as it just sums-up what had been shown over the previous 90 minutes.
If you can stomach a typically French drama featuring bourgeois types bemoaning their lives, the combination of Denis and Binoche make this a compelling, if flawed, movie.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10