35 Shots of Rum

Film Review by Gail Tolley | 06 Jul 2009
  • 35 Shots of Rum
Film title: 35 Shots of Rum
Director: Claire Denis
Starring: Alex Descas, Mati Diop, Gregoire Colin, Nicole Dogue, Julieth Mars-Toussaint, Ingrid Caven
Release date: 10 July 2009
Certificate: 12A

A pivotal scene in Claire Denis’ latest film, 35 Shots of Rum, takes place with almost no dialogue.  Yet, in its quietness, it perfectly captures the complex relationships and emotions of the family that are the focus of this film and does so with sensitivity and beauty. The scene in question is set in a bar where the four main characters have ended up after their car has broken down. Lionel (Alex Descas) watches as his daughter Joséphine (Mati Diop) dances with their young neighbour, Noé (Grégorie Colin), hinting that their close father-daughter relationship is soon to change. Lionel in turn chooses to dance with the beautiful owner of the bar whilst his former lover Gabrielle looks on. The relay of looks is subtle but shows Denis’ total command over her medium – such an effective portrayal of thoughts unsaid and hard-to-define feelings is rarely so well accomplished in cinema. [Gail Tolley]