12 December 2009

35 Shots of Rum

Directed by: Claire Denis
Written by: Claire Denis & Jean-Pol Fargeau
Full credits at IMDb

In 35 Shots of Rum (35 Rhums), one character informs another that the university is closing the anthropology department. Because it doesn’t see the value in it. Director Denis thinks differently, and her film serves as a testament to value of studying the everyday lives of a peoples: in this case, the mostly black working-class in a Paris suburb. While some drama seeps into the film—jealous lovers, even a suicide—for the most part, nothing happens: cab drivers gripe, a man broods over his retirement, a family cooks dinner, students debate third-world debt, friends go out for beers, a man shops for a CD, another goes for a run, and everybody rides the trains. Every scene is acted with warmth and humanity, filmed coolly yet sympathetically by Denis; it adds up to a seemingly authentic portrait of the immigrant and children-of-immigrants experience in contemporary France that puts to shame Cederic Klapisch’s recent Paris, with its melodramatic, self-pitying and predominantly white bourgeoisie. Grade: B

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