Let the Sunshine In
Claire Denis joins forces with another icon of French cinema – Juliette Binoche – for a romantic comedy that's an empathetic, perceptive and moving exploration of 21st century love and sex
It's impossible to predict what a new Claire Denis film will be like – you just know it's going to be something special. After plunging us into the depraved depths of Bastards in 2013, the French filmmaker returns with her warmest work since 2008's 35 Shots of Rum. The seductively loose and sensual Let the Sunshine In stars Juliette Binoche as Isabelle, a divorced artist looking for love and connecting with a variety of men – a neurotic young actor, a persistent ex, a taciturn stranger from the countryside – who are all destined to frustrate and disappoint her in a variety of ways.
It's essentially a romantic comedy, but filtered through Denis' unique artistic sensibility. Once again working with the cinematographer Agnès Godard, Denis brings a ravishing tactility and sensuality to the film. Let the Sunshine In is unusually verbose for a Denis picture, with a couple of long monologues that are expertly delivered, but Godard's camera is always alert, and long conversations are enlivened by the way our view swings from one participant to the other. Despite all this talk, however, Denis still pulls off a few of her trademark scenes of wordless transcendence, with a slow dance set to Etta James’ At Last being one of this film’s standout moments.
At Last becomes something of a theme song for Let the Sunshine In, and it might match the cry that went up from cinephiles when we heard that Denis and Binoche, these two icons of contemporary French cinema, were finally collaborating. Binoche is at her unmatchable best here, bringing incredible nuances and a tangible depth of emotion to every single scene. One might expect a 95-minute romantic comedy unfolding in vignettes to be a lightweight work, but Let the Sunshine In is empathetic, perceptive and moving in its exploration of 21st century love and sex. It's a wonderful film from one of the best directors working today, and the final scene – which will pin you to your seat until the last credit has rolled – is one for the ages. [Philip Concannon]
Let the Sunshine In screens at Glasgow Film Festival: Sat 24 Feb, GFT, 6pm | Mon 26 Feb, GFT 3.45pm
Released in the UK 20 Apr by Curzon Artificial Eye