Now at the acme of her slow-burn career—she turned 72 last year—Claire Denis is producing work that is superlative. Her newest works conjure feelings of an unrivalled intensity and tenderness. This article considers her English-language sci-fi film High Life (2018) and her French rom-com Un Beau Soleil Intérieur [Let the Sunshine In] (2017) in parallel, arguing that the two films converge as forceful meditations on love and death. In the world of Denis, tenderness characterizes the gentlest, most delicate feelings, but is also about vulnerability, a sensitivity to pain. Denis brings these qualities into relief as she contemplates death and a finite future through these two stories of a female artist exploring relationships and of convict passengers on a space ship. Through the roles of actress Juliette Binoche in each film, Denis takes a feminist stance on ageing and sexuality, as she also looks openly at other human feelings.
Love Me Tender: New Films from Claire Denis
Emma Wilson is Professor of French and a member of the Centre for Film and Screen Studies at the University of Cambridge. Her most recent book is Love, Mortality and the Moving Image (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012) and her forthcoming volume is The Reclining Nude: Agnès Varda, Catherine Breillat, and Nan Goldin (Liverpool University Press, 2019).
Emma Wilson; Love Me Tender: New Films from Claire Denis. Film Quarterly 1 June 2019; 72 (4): 18–28. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fq.2019.72.4.18
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