Thursday, May 17, 2018

A showcase for actress Juliette Binoche

If director Claire Denis’s Let the Sunshine In were nothing more than a tribute to the allure and complexity of actress Juliette Binoche, it would be well worth seeing. The movie, however, offers more than a showcase for Binoche, putting her at the center of a story about a woman struggling to come to grips with the relationships in her life. In Let the Sunshine In, Binoche plays Isabelle, an artist of some repute. Yet, the film is not really about Isabelle’s art or about her creative aspirations. And it's not really about her role as a mother, either. Throughout the course of this 96-minute movie, we Isabelle's daughter for only a few seconds. Like Isabelle, the movie fixates on relationships, most of which are, in one way or another, unsatisfying. Denis doesn’t shortchange Isabelle’s sexual life; it opens with her in bed with one of her lovers (Xavier Beauvois), a banker who we quickly learn is a certified jerk. Later, she becomes involved with an actor (Nicolas Duvauchelle) who’s married. She’s almost, but not entirely, done with her ex-husband (Laurent Grevill) and she meets a guy in a club (Paul Blain) with whom she seems to make a powerful connection. Isabelle’s conversations take her on a stutter-step journey in pursuit of lasting commitment. Isabelle’s art life nips at the movie’s fringes but her conversations become a series of false starts and perhaps even avoidance of what's going on with the men in her life. The men in the movie aren't much better at establishing real connections. In the movie’s final going, Gerard Depardieu somewhat inexplicably shows up as a psychic who has a long reassuring talk with Isabelle as the final credits roll. Are we to believe him when he says she’ll ultimately find the longed-for love? Is he fueling her delusions, renewing her hopes in a life that isn't really going to change? I’m not sure, but I found this novel approach to the movie’s closing credits mesmerizing, as full of twists and blind alleys as the rest of a movie that only an actress as supple, furious and open to confusion as Binoche could have pulled off.

No comments: