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.

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