The opening sequence of Claire Denis’ film may almost lull you to sleep. Clacking commuter trains roll on and on as a man watches and smokes cigarettes. Day becomes night. The man (Lionel) takes off on his scooter. A woman is seen on the train. Later she buys a rice cooker. The man comes home with a rice cooker he has bought for the same woman, his daughter, Josephine. They sit down to dinner. Perfect rice, and perfect domesticity.
At a retirement party, the shots are flowing. Someone suggests it’s time to go for the 35. Lionel declines and goes home, where his daughter waits up for him. They are devoted to each other. Very much in love, really. But there’s the boy next door, Noe – a long time neighbor, Gabrielle, Lionel’s ex-girlfriend lives in the same apartment complex. The four of them are like a family. They watch out for each other, they do things together. The relationships are a delicate balance.
Truthfully, nothing much happens here…well, the cat dies…But so much happens in the looks, the embraces, the smiles, the silences. This is such a lovely, warm film. It has a melancholy feel, yet it never backs away from its love of life. A very moving viewing experience. This is a film that I can imagine being seen in a theater, not because it’s a blockbuster and it needs to be seen on the big screen. No. It’s because it’s such a quiet film, that cries for hunkering down in the dark and letting yourself be swept away.
I loved this film very much.