Greetings Cinema friends,
Decorated, fearless, and radical in her influence on European cinema, French filmmaker Claire Denis has been making films (and waves) since 1988. Her early films immediately pierced the veil of her nation’s uncomfortable history of colonialism and its role in shaping modern France in large and small ways. Also core to her work is Denis’ unique definition and depiction of human desire that, as critic Carolyn Lazard describes it, “is not necessarily to want a person. It is the need to annihilate the space between you and them: to destroy the separateness.” Across collaborators and genres—drama, romance, horror, and science fiction—her films form a singular way of seeing the world and ourselves.
At 76 years old and with 15 other features to her name, Denis’ newest, Both Sides of the Blade comes to Ragtag Cinema for one week. Centered on the beloved Juliette Binoche and featuring Vincent Lindon, it is the story of a chance encounter with the past and the resulting love triangle that threatens to spin the lives of all involved out of control. Denis’ hallmark conceptions of history and desire as troublesome things propel this taught erotic thriller. For her, we are not often proud of our pasts nor capable of controlling our desires—no one comes into adulthood or happiness with clean slates, and what drives us has little to do with the brain… or the heart.