Magazine article Screen International


Magazine article Screen International


Article excerpt

Dir: Claire Denis. France. 2013. 100mins

Bastards (Les Salauds), Clare Denis' first feature since 2009's White Material, sees the French director take a change in direction to forensically tease out a family's rotting secret, drawing the viewer into frame after beautiful frame. Dark and difficult, Bastards sees Denis brook no passive viewing.

Bastards is a secretive film, like the family it probes.

This brooding drama is an oblique, ultimately provocative film that will divide audiences and critics alike - some finding it elliptical where others see an under-written piece.

At turns perversely frustrating and completely engaging, Bastards' composed aesthetic, intense performances and electronic score from Tindersticks is surprisingly seductive, given its subject matter, although its payoff, deliberately with-held to the last frames, is gratuitously over-stated.

Bastards opens with a suicide (of businessman Jacques, we later learn) and cuts to a teenage girl stumbling naked down the street, still wearing high-heeled shoes. Jacques' wife Sandra (Bataille) blames the businessman Edouard Laporte (Subor) for the trouble which has afflicted her family. Her disturbed and abused daughter (Creton) lies in a psychiatric ward and her bother Marco (Lindon), captain of a tanker ship, has cut himself off from his family.

When Marco leaves his post to come back to Paris and help his family, he moves into an apartment in the same block as Laporte's mistress Raphaelle (Mastroianni) and their small son. But even as he discovers that Sandra has been keeping secrets from him, he also becomes embroiled in an intense affair with Raphaelle as Claire Denis sets up her unique take on a revenge drama. …

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