Claire Denis

Feline filmmaker


Posted on october 18, 2018


Seeing Claire Denis’ films screened at Lumière, with an audience, grouped together in a limited timeframe, is a very particular experience. It is rare that a filmmaker gives the sensation of delivering a work as an extraction, an essence of perfumes so pure that it lingers long after the experience. The cinema of Claire Denis infuses the beauty of bodies.

The cinema of Claire Denis is the beauty of bodies that hover or stagnate; feminine or masculine physiques, immobile, seeming to float in the hollow of powerful atmospheres. They breathe, sniff, observe, they also search and move oddly, imperceptibly, before ceasing motion once more. The style is guarded, tense, controlled by Claire Denis, who, whatever she films, has style! Behind this same spirit, there is a body of work, movies that that are inextricably linked. How can we not associate the ecstasy of a pale Beatrice Dalle at dawn, barely-satiated and shaking, a bloody-mouthed cannibal in “Trouble Every Day” (2001), with Robert Pattinson’s lips, slightly open, a cosmonaut also in anticipation in “High Life” (2018)? Knowing how to wait. Waiting is one of the finest qualities of the heroes of Denis’ films; waiting fearlessly, facing things head-on, like the white woman in “Chocolat” (1988), or Juliette Binoche with her quivering nostrils on a love quest in “Let the Sunshine In” (2017).



© Institut Lumière / Sabine Perrin - Jean-luc Mège photography


Claire Denis pushes her actors, lulled by perfectly-composed soundtracks, to express their moral and physical instincts, to return to an imperious inner churning that transforms them, transfigures them and makes them almost fantastic creatures. In the final assessment, then, Denis' cinema is not motionless; it summons hearts that vibrate, as long as they are in contact, together, blended like a chemical formula that works and also suffers, because nothing is safe in her films. With these feline characters, the world becomes a hybrid; not totally urban, still a little wild, like the fundamental states of those who traverse it. Whether in Africa, Paris, the slums, or in space, we must advance the adventure, without forgetting what we have left behind. The cinema of Claire Denis shows that anything is possible, because the experiences of its heroes are endowed with countless variations, and exponentially heightened senses. How then could we not want to identify and even validate it? With a rather exceptional sense of imagery, the director, with rigorous care, takes each of us by the hand, leading us and embarking us on a journey, like a new and modern sensory experience, that we would all want to live and relive. The experience of today’s adventurer.


Virginie Apiou


Categories: Lecture Zen