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Claire Denis’ deeply emotional yet light-of-touch drama, 35 Shots of Rum, follows a small circle of Parisians in a roundelay of relationships that touches on almost every kind of love there is. Lionel (Alex Descas, The Limits of Control) is a train engineer who shares a modest apartment, and a life of tacit, mutual devotion, with his daughter Jo (Mati Diop, Simon Killer), a university student. In the same building live taxi driver Gabrielle (Nicole Dogué, Bastards), and Noe (Grégoire Colin, Beau travail), an intense man who comes and goes. Together, they form a kind of family.
“Remarkable … pitch-perfect … to fall in love with 35 Shots of Rum, viewers only have to be receptive to a movie that examines the ties that bind with grace, wit and depth.” – David Fear, Time Out New York
We come to understand their roles and relationships only gradually as Denis leaves crumbs for us to follow on a narrative path, and that is one of the pleasures of this extraordinarily pleasurable film made up of small moments, of looks and silences, of physicality and pensiveness. Agnès Godard’s cinematography richly limns an interior architecture in which objects take on an Ozu-like delicacy and immediacy, and uses train tracks (and cars and motorcycles and vans) to propel the story into the out-of-doors and, eventually, the future, as father and daughter face the inevitable: her independence. (Dir. by Claire Denis, 2008, France/Germany, in French and German with English subtitles, 100 mins., Not Rated)