35 SHOTS OF RUM
Films about families and their complications all too often pierce eardrums with shrieks of dysfunction. Amid the din, Claire Denis’s sublime 35 Shots of Rum stands out all the more for its soothing quiet, conveying the easy, frequently nonverbal intimacy between a widowed father, Lionel, and his university-student daughter, Joséphine. An homage to Yasujiro Ozu’s similarly themed Late Spring (1949), 35 Shots is Denis’s warmest, most radiant work, honoring a family of two’s extreme closeness while suggesting its potential for suffocation. 35 Shots is firmly rooted in place, several scenes unfolding in an apartment building in a run-down section of Paris’s 18th arrondissement, home to Lionel and Joséphine; Gabrielle, an ex of Lionel’s who still aches for him; and Noé, nursing a crush on Joséphine. Dyads align, shift, break, and regroup among the foursome, jealousy simmering during an unforgettable scene at a café, in which Noé cuts in on a sweetly dancing Lionel and Joséphine as the Commodores’ “Night Shift” plays. Nonsexual filial devotion is immediately supplanted by heat and desire. Father and daughter’s comfortable life together will need to end—an inevitability that even Lionel recognizes as necessary, no matter how painful.
“For 20 years, Claire Denis has been among France’s foremost filmmakers with her acute yet subtle observations of the ebbs and flows within relationships. Her perception and understanding seem to grow only richer over the years, and her newest film, “35 Shots of Rum,” is surely one of her finest — and thereby one of the best films of the year.” Kevin Thomas, The Los Angeles Times..
French with English subtitles
The Cinema Guild