Saturday, February 11, 2012

Rats Off to Claire Denis!

I Can't Sleep
1994. 110 minutes. France. Directed by Claire Denis. Watchdate: 3/6/2011
Based on seeing this movie - unfortunately the only feature I got to see at last spring's Denis retrospective at the PFA - I revisited my thoughts and feelings on White Material, eventually coming to the conclusion that Claire Denis may be the most compelling cinematic storyteller working today that I have seen. Her only competition thus far for my preferences would be the Coen Brothers, and I Can't Sleep suggests that she may be more inventive and daring then they could hope to be. She makes movies in a completely different idiom, mixing a rhapsodic cocktail of dark absurdity, humane and naturalistic conflict, political paradoxes, and fears, loves, dreams realized, satirized, undulating in imitation of the earth.

In I Can't Sleep, every character is at once sympathetic and repulsive, and humorous asides infest the plot and take it over like so many termites. I have rarely been so simultaneously surprised, horrified, amused, disgusted, intrigued and provoked at the movies. I would say more but I wouldn't want to spoil the shivers of sheer frightened delight you will inevitably have when you see it. Rats off to Claire Denis!

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